Bertie to quit as Taoiseach

Something I haven’t quite expected at this point of time, and would have thought to be a hoax has this broke out yesterday but yes, Bertie Ahern is stepping down from his position as Taoiseach!

According to breaking news from the Irish Times:

Bertie Ahern is to step down as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fail on May 6th, he announced this morning.

Amid mounting pressure about his personal finances, Mr Ahern said he was proud of his political achievements but denied any wrongdoing in relation to his personal finances.

Flanked by cabinet colleagues including Brian Cowen, Martin Cullen, Mary Coughlan, Willie O’Dea, Noel Dempsey, Brian Lenihan and Green Party leader John Gormley, Mr Ahern said a “constant barrage of commentary” was distracting the work of Government.

Mr Ahern was set to come under pressure in Dáil this afternoon as the Opposition parties seek an explanation for evidence given to the Mahon tribunal by his former secretary.

The Opposition will press Mr Ahern on the sterling payments lodged to his Irish Permanent building society account by Gráinne Carruth. Fine Gael and the Labour Party earlier called on Mr Ahern make a statement about his financial affairs.

The tribunal is investigating claims that Mr Ahern received money from property developer Owen O’Callaghan. The claim by Tom Gilmartin has been repeatedly denied by Mr O’Callaghan and by Mr Ahern himself. However the tribunal invetigations have thrown up questions on lodgements to Mr Ahern’spersonal accounts in the early 1990s.

The total value of lodgements and other transactions that have to date been queried by the tribunal in its public inquiries into Mr Ahern’s finances, exceeds £452,800. The lodgements and transactions occurred between 1988 and 1997, although the vast bulk of the money was lodged in the period to 1995.

The total is the equivalent of €886,830 in today’s terms, applying the consumer price index for the period 1994 to 2008. The total excludes lodgements where the tribunal has been shown the money was transferred from one bank account to another, but includes such lodgements where neither Mr Ahern nor the tribunal have been able to find independent confirmation as to what occurred.

Last week, acting Progressive Democrats leader and Minister for Health Mary Harney and Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley also said Mr Ahern needed to clarify the situation. However, Government sources insisted last night the Taoiseach had no intention of giving a wide-ranging response to the Opposition during Leaders’ Questions today and would not be dealing with issues that were going to be the subject of hearings by the tribunal or the courts.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern revealed yesterday that he had spoken to the Taoiseach over the weekend and strongly advised against his making a statement on his personal finances in the Dáil today.

The Mahon tribunal made significant concessions to the Taoiseach on the first day of his High Court challenge to its inquiries yesterday, saying it accepted the Constitution prohibited it from questioning him about the veracity of statements made by him in the Dáil about his financial affairs. It indicated it would be questioning the Taoiseach primarily about statements made outside the Dáil. The case continues today.

Well, I guess the pressure for him to resign must have mounted majorly given the ongoing tribunal investigation, and for once, the thing that doesn’t stick on the “Teflon Taoiseach” this time round is his role as the leader of the country.

2 Comments so far

  1. Mo (dub_mohan) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

    pretty much shock for everyone in the country :).. i haven’t lived here enough to judge much.. but i think its good for the country.. one person being the head of a state for that long is not good in my opinion.. the policies seems dragging n stuff..

  2. Lil (lilianl) on April 9th, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

    if you think this is draggy, you should look at some countries where the reigning power sits supreme for over 20 years!

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