Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Corruption Invaded Irish Politics, Tribunal Says

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Corruption Invaded Irish Politics, Tribunal Says

Article excerpt

A tribunal in Ireland said that a former prime minister, Bertie Ahern, had failed to tell the truth about more than $275,000 he received while in office, though it said it could not conclude that he had taken bribes.

After 15 years of hearings, a tribunal in Ireland concluded that "corruption affected every level of Irish political life" and that a former prime minister, Bertie Ahern, had failed to tell the truth about more than $275,000 he received while in office. But the tribunal said it could not conclude that Mr. Ahern had taken bribes.

The investigative body, known formally as the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments and informally as the Mahon Tribunal, investigated allegations that politicians sought bribes from property developers in return for favorable decisions on land rezoning in and around Dublin during the 1980s and 1990s. The tribunal delivered its final report on Tuesday.

Beyond what it has to say about Mr. Ahern, the 3,270-page report paints a damning picture of Ireland's political culture, and has sent ripples of consternation through Irish society.

The Parliament is scheduled to devote three days next week to discussing the report, and the government will forward it to the police to be reviewed for possible criminal prosecutions.

The report took Mr. Ahern to task over his testimony concerning deposits made into his bank accounts while he was in office, saying that "much of the explanation provided by Mr. Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds identified and inquired into in the course of the tribunal's public hearings was deemed by the tribunal to be untrue."

His testimony, given in 2007 when he was prime minister, met with widespread public skepticism, leading to his resignation both from office and from the leadership of the Fianna Fail party the following year.

Mr. Ahern has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The tribunal said it could not determine where the money, deposited into Mr. Ahern's accounts in Irish pounds, British pounds and American dollars, had come from. But it did not believe his various explanations that the sums were gifts from friends, winnings from betting on horse races, and back wages from his tenure as finance minister that were delayed because at the time he did not have a bank account. …

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