Many commentators have this week spoken of how Bertie Ahern’s former secretary, Grainne Carruth, has been hung out to dry at the Mahon Tribunal. How a lowly, low paid minion has been abandoned before the howling, snarling hound that is Tribunal counsel.

However, if we look at the evidence she has given this week a different story becomes clear. A story of someone still mired in the Drumcondra Mafia, someone who, perhaps out of a misplaced sense of loyalty, is prepared to take the most extraordinary risks to remain loyal to her former boss. This is not Frank Dunlop cracking under Mr. Justice Flood’s steely glare and coming in next day singing like a canary.

On Wednesday Ms. Carruth told the tribunal that she had never handled Sterling when making lodgements to Ahern’s accounts at the Permanent TSB branch in Drumcondra. She also said that she only ever handled two passbooks when making these lodgements, those passbooks being for accounts in the names of Ahern’s two daughters.

On Thursday, having been presented with contradictory evidence by Tribunal counsel, Ms. Carruth then accepted that ‘on the balance of probability’ that she had indeed handled Sterling cash for Mr. Ahern and that she had indeed lodged money on his behalf to three PTSB accounts. Now, having been presented with this incontrovertible evidence, Ms. Carruth still refuses to admit to the obvious truth of how things actually happened. She simply says that because it is there in black and white that she must then accept it. This is far from being the same as giving straight, honest evidence under oath.

Grainne Carruth consulted with one of Bertie Ahern’s legal representatives in St. Luke’s before giving initial evidence to the tribunal in private. This smacks of a previous Team Ahern tactic of asking the AIB what they had told the tribunal before Bertie was to give evidence

Also this morning I hear one of Bertie’s champions whining that ‘…it’s only about money, nobody has died here, it’s not China we’re dealing with…’ Well if the whiter than white knights in Fianna Fáil don’t mind I’ll set my standards a little higher than those of China, thank you very much.

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Just spotted this over at Dublin Opinion.  A must read.  Deja Vu doesn’t even begin to describe it. 

Average life expectancy in Ireland is currently about 78 years. This is not as good as Japan where an infant born in 2005 can expect, all things being equal, to live to the ripe old age of 81. However, a child born in Ireland in 2005 can expect to live over twice as long as a child born in Zimbabwe, where life expectancy has now dropped to just 33. Swaziland ranks lowest of all at just over 31 years.

All of this information came to light when I was thinkiBertie's Poochng about what to write today. I was going to do a tongue in cheek piece about all of the dead bodies around Dublin Castle this last 10 years or so. Isn’t it odd that every time the trbunal or a witness unearths the identity of someone who could clear up his whole sorry mess……you guessed it.

They turn up dead.

(Has Jessica Fletcher been hanging around the Castle recently?)Bertie’s Pooch

This was supposed to be a post about Bertie and the wonderful gift he recieved from his dear old mammy, But after reading about the decimation of Zimbabwe in life expectancy terms by that animal, Mugabe, I don’t really have the heart for it.

I’m sick of Bertie and his lies. I’m sick of his grubby money. I’m sick of the explanations which rank lower than ‘the dog ate my homework…’ I’m sick of the guy who can explain everything being, unfortunately, inconveniently dead. I’m sick of banks that don’t keep records or even count the wads of cash handed to them by finance ministers. I’m sick of the Green Party saying in May that Fianna Fáil are the devil incarnate before entering government with them in June. I’m sick of hearing that Bertie doesn’t care about money when all of the evidence says that there is no level to which he will not stoop if the price is right.

You might think that I’m sick of being taken for a fool, but you would be wrong.

I’m not all that sure that the Irish public has been taken for fools. We know that these leaches have been pilfering and lying and cheating for years. If we gave a shit about this then we would have been taken for a ride. However, if we gave a shit about any of this they would not still be there, most likely still pilfering and lying and cheating.

As I have said many times before, the beauty of democracy is that you actually do get the government you deserve.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A question.When is forty five grand not forty five grand?

When your Bertie Ahearn, of course. Bertie’s life is an amazing stream of coincidence, good fortune and just downright bizzare happenstance. If Freddie Forsyth were to write Bertie into a novel the critics would say that he was stretching credulity much too far.

If you think I’m being hard on poor old Bertie (just an ordinary working class guy who can’t beleive how lucky he is to find himself leader of this great nation), then let me make a list.

1. Bertie is an accountant, apparently. When the newspapers went digging a few years ago no trace of Bertie could be found at the London college he claims to have attended. Someone suggsted he had been to night school!

2. Bertie spent years signing blank cheques drawn on the Fianna Fáil leaders account when Charles Haughey was head of the party and the country. Surely as an accountant, with qualifications from a London college no less, Bertie would know that this practice was highly unorhodox and certainly ethically questionable in terms of accountancy practice. But Bertie saw nothing wrong with this. He just did as he was told by the then party leader.

3. During the late 1980s and early 1990s Bertie had no bank account! Are we expected to beleive this? He was a government minister. He was in one of the best paid jobs in the country, and we are asked to beleive that every payday he took a cheque down to his local pub, tossed it accross the bar and recieved cash for it. Pound notes!

4. During this time, he tells us, he had a large sum of cash in a safe in Drumcondra, something in the region of fifty grand. Let me put noughts on that – £50,000. That’s almost twice the average earnings of a Garda in 1994 and we are asked to beleive that he ‘saved’ all of this in about 18 months.

5. In 1994 a Manchester based business man, Michael Wall, handed Bertie Stg£30,000 in cash at St. Luke’s, Bertie’s office in Drumcondra. This money was for renovations to a three year old house just up the road from St. Luke’s which Mr. Wall was intending to buy. Bertie was, it seems, intending to rent this house from Mr. Wall after he had made good on his intention to buy the house and when all of these good intentions were done and dusted Mr. Wall was going to spend £50,000 doing the place up for Bertie to move into. Not only that but Bertie was going to spend £30,000 of his own money on more renovations to a house that he was only renting. All of these plans, it seems, were hatched before Michael Wall had even bought the house!

6. Bertie’s then patrtner, Ms. Celia Larkin, took the Stg£30,000 to the AIB on O’Connell St. in Dublin and lodged it to a bank account in her name. Why not an account in Bertie’s name? He says he had no bank account at the time but, if you are the minister for finance and you walk into a bank with vast sums of foreign currency in your hip pocket, well they are hardly going to refuse to do business with you.

7. Why would a government minister who was dealing in unusually large amounts of cash not have a bank account?

8. Bertie was going through a seperation from his wife at this time.

9. The day that Celia Larkin alledgedly lodged Stg£30,000 to the account in O’Connell St. only £19,000 in foreign currency was received at that branch. However the £28,000 and change that she lodged to the bank on that day is equal to exactly $45,000. This of course is just a coincidence as Bertie has assured us that he never, ever had any dealings in dollars. So that’s ok then.

When you think about it, it does stretch credulity just a bit.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

So, Bertie has questions to answer.Among the blizzard of questions about Bertie’s finances this last week there was one startling omission.

Yes, we all want to know if the purchase of his house in Drumcondra was ‘an arms length, bone fide transaction for full market value’.
Yes, we all want to know how he managed to ‘save’ £28,000 in just eight or nine months of 1994. A year during which his salary was about £52,000, out of which he had to pay income tax, a mortgage on a house in Malahide, maintenance to his wife, child support for his kids and he had to eat and provide a roof over his own head.
Yes, we all want to know, also, why he would keep £50,000 in a safe in his office. It certainly wasn’t ‘run away money’ – I mean why would he run away after the separation. (I know, I know, we’re not supposed to be getting into his private life!)

Yes, we all want an explanation for the startling coincidence of the lodgements to Celia’s bank account which don’t match up to Stg£30,000 but do make up exactly $45,000 at that day’s exchange rate.

However, the question I would like an answer to is this.

In what sane, democratic, developed nation is it deemed ok for the serving minister for finance to be in the same room as a business man and a briefcase containing Stg£30,000 in cash? (I said sane, Mr. Mugabe.)

Here’s another question.

In what sane, democratic, developed nation could said minister expect to be exonerated by simply claiming that the money wasn’t for him. It was, apparently, for his girlfriend! So that’s all right then.

I don’t do business at the scale of thirty grand transactions, but this last week I have spoken to some people who do. Neither they nor I do business by carrying around briefcases stuffed with cash. Regular business transactions involve bank drafts, cheques, inter bank transfers and other normal, traceable methods of transferring money.

The essence of our democracy should be that those charged with dispensing the democratic will of the people should be like Caesars wife. That is they should not only be above suspicion but should be seen to be above suspicion. If a serving govrnment minister is hanging around with business men and large sums of cash, well let’s just say that the optics are not great.

However, in a country where an admitted tax cheat can top the poll in a general election. Where a minister can waste €50,000,000 on electronic voting machines that will never be used, and still get reelected. Where a Prime Minister can openly live the life of a multi millionaire (private island, racehorses, huge mansion stuffed with art works etc.), all on a salary which wouldn’t support even the house he lived in, without serious questions being asked, it is just possible that Bertie can flash that famous cheesy grin of his, revert back to the poor northside boy who done good persona, grumble about how it’s really not fair and is distracting him from the running of the country, and he might just get away with it.

So if you’re thinking of voting Fianna Fáil on May 24th let me ask you one more time.

Should a serving minister be hanging around business men with briefcases full of cash – even if the cash was for his girlfriend?