Bertie at the Tribunal – The Money Trail

  • £30,000 cash payment accused
  • £30,000 cash lodged a month later

Well, it’s all over now.  Bertie Ahern made what is probably his last appearance at the Mahon Tribunal yesterday (his successors seeming ready to decide that it is in the national interest to stop paying for the tribunals at the end of this year).

But where does the money match up, and where are the coincidences?

Firstly, there were two main accusations that the Tribunal was to investigate:

  1. That Owen O’Callaghan gave Bertie Ahern IR£50,000 in 1989 – there hasn’t been much direct evidence of this cash
  2. That Owen O’Callaghan gave Bertie Ahern IR£30,000 in 1992, 1993 or 1994 after a meeting between the two, in return for blocking tax designation for a rival’s development

The only meeting Bertie Ahern has been willing to acknowledge between the two was held in Government Buildings on April 24th 1994.  At that meeting, Ahern informed O’Callaghan that neither his project, a shopping centre at Quarryvale, nor its competitor, a shopping centre at Blanchardstown, would receive designation for tax exemptions.  It is not outside reason to infer that this is the date to which the accusations, made by O’Callaghan’s former business partner, Tom Gilmartin, relate.

Exactly one month later, on May 24th 1994, an AIB bank official visited Bertie Ahern at his Drumcondra office, St Luke’s, and received … you guessed it, IR£30,000 in cash.  Phillip Murphy took that cash and lodged into a Special Savings Account in Ahern’s name.  This account had been opened in December 1993 – Ahern’s first bank account, he claims, since his 1989 seperation from his wife.  Ahern claims the IR£30,000 was part of the cash he had accumulated in his office from 1989 to May 1994, a period during which he had no bank accounts (until December 1993).

There was an existing IR£22,500 or so in the special savings account, and Murphy used most of the IR£30,000 (IR£27,164.44 according to records – which would allow for a little interest to have accumulated on the original deposit) to bring it to its limit of IR£50,000.  Why Ahern gave AIB IR£30,000 instead of IR£27,164.44 or even a closer round number like IR£27,500, is unexplained still.  Why he had not lodged the IR£30,000 to that account when he opened it, if it were sitting in his office as claimed by Mr Ahern (in a biscuit tin according to earlier evidence), is also unexplained.

So, to summarise that without bringing in all the extraneous talk of other money to-ings and fro-ings from Ahern’s pockets and accounts:  Ahern is accused of receiving IR£30,000 on or around April 24th 1994.  On May 24th 1994, just a month later, he gave an AIB official exactly that amount to lodge to his (Ahern’s) AIB bank accounts.

While the Mahon Tribunal may not be able to find with certainty that this was O’Callaghan’s money, it is surely likely to find that the cooincidence is highly unusual.

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