Ursula Halligan interviews Ahern

I didn’t get all of them, but here are most of the questions she asked:

Why is drumcondra so important to you?
Con Ahern, he’s a fascinating character..?
What is a flying column?
How did he keep order in his house?
He would give you the odd thump?
Were you afraid of him?
You liked him?
Who do you think you were most like, your mum or your dad?
She died in the middle of the good friday negotiations?
In the meantime you did slip into the hospital…?
What impact did it have?
How would the other boys have seen you? they called you a culchie?
So you were a fighter? Were you in alot of scrapes? Would you use your fists?
Did anyone ever get the better of you?
Do you need as a leader to be ruthless to succeed?

There’s a great piece in your book were you say you could be tough if you had to be…
What did you mean by that? Every trick in the book?
Was Haughey ruthless?
You liked him?
DId you see him doing anything that was wrong?
Why did you take it from him?
Was Albert tough?
You were disappointed at how Lenihan supported you in the end?
What were they saying?
What did they say to you?

There’s a loyalty in Miriam, I didnt deserve it?
You did find love again with Celia Larkin?
What was so special about Celia? Describe her, in your words.
What breaks your heart now about the absence of Celia in your life?
Why did it break up Bertie?
You ruled out getting married?
The Mahon tribunal… are you worried about that?
Would you be upset if they did come out with a finding like that?
You have a clean conscience on it…
You believe someone out there was trying to bury you…?
Who is the real Bertie Ahern?
Are you very self disciplined?
Was it worth it all?

Off with her head

Anne Harris, writing on the frontpage of the Sindo today, displays a rather curious sense of outrage at the Irish Times’ page one story from Saturday.

The Irish Times should be ashamed of itself. Yesterday, on the eve of their 150th anniversary, the so-called paper of record had, as its lead story, the fact that last year Celia Larkin got a “fast-tracked” second mortgage from the Irish Nationwide Building Society without initially providing details of her income, identification (seriously), bank statements and other loans held by her.

Celia Larkin’s second mortgage — described in paragraph two of the story as a “payment” (see what I mean) was, they say, “connected to transactions investigated by the Mahon (the biggest loaded word of all) tribunal”.

Do they tell us how it was connected? Of course not, because how it was connected would probably change how many readers would view this particular story.

Fifteen years ago, Celia Larkin was lent €30,000 from the Building Trust Fund of her previous employers towards the price of a previously rent-controlled house from which her two elderly aunts were facing eviction. To get such a loan was very convenient but not a crime.

Clearly Ms Harris has vested interests herself. And I believe it is she who should be ashamed of herself. The “Building Trust Fund” nonsense has long since been discredited, thanks to evidence from the staff of the Drumcondra branch of Permanent TSB. They clearly recalled and understood that B/T stood for Bertie/Tim, and building trusts were never mentioned. Indeed one staff member swore that Tim Collins himself referred to it as the Bertie/Tim account. That would put something of a variation on what Harris is getting at, wouldn’t it?

Mahon Tribunal:

March 19 2008 (Q 267)
May 20 2008 (Q412) (Q415) (Q421) (Q422) (Q423)

The B/T account

In case anyone is in any doubt as to why the Tribunal is so interested in the B/T account. There are a number of reasons.

The main reason I can discern is the volume of £5,000 lodgments.
The second reason is the two large other lodgments of £19,000 and £20,000.

For a moment, forget everything that Collins and Ahern have said and look coldly at the figures. Imagine that B/T stands for Bertie/Tim, as four PTSB staff have sworn to believe it to be.

£7,285.71, June 6, 1989 (PTSB)
£5,000, March 30, 1990 cheque (PTSB)
£5,000, April 27, 1991 (PTSB)
£5,000 February 24, 1992 cheque (PTSB)
£20,000, August 25, 1992 cheque (PTSB)
£5,000, January 26, 1993 cheque (PTSB)
£5,000, January 26, 1993 cheque (PTSB)
£20,000, October 26, 1994
£10,000, July 18, 1995

Now think of this.

In the early 1990s it was common practice for Frank Dunlop to pay retainers to politicians. These retainers sometimes consisted of £5,000. Once zoning was given by the council, politicians were then given “success fees”. These were larger than the retainers and were a reward for the successful zoning. The retainers were kept by politicians whether the zoning was successful or not.

After Dunlop had his day of clarity and began admitting giving bribes, he went back through his diary and scribbled out stuff. The tribunal refers to it as “obliteration”. We still don’t know quite why he did it, but thanks to the FBI, the Tribunal were able to unobliterate his diary entries.

Here is an example of a Dunlop diary entry he obliterated (Square brackets are me):

February 1, 1991

9 o’clock, John, Ken/Kevin, Paul

£75,000 “clause” or “close”

£50,000 development/build

£5,000 if nothing happens

Or this:

October 9, 1991, [RE CityWest]

8.30 Davys DS [David Shubotham]

BH [Brendan Hickey]

LL [Liam Lawlor]

Renew lands

Agreed schedule of payments with DS

£5,000 down

£20k following, £10k before Christmas

Oh yes, Shubotham. Remember he was involved in the Greencore share scam in 1993 when Ahern was selling of the State’s stake? The Davy guys sold the shares to themselves. Smart men.

Hence the interest in B/T. The amounts are curious. The name is curious. PTSB staff said it was Bertie/Tim. Tim Collins controlled the account. Bertie Ahern was on paper unconnected from the money. If I were a Tribunal, or any form of investigator, I too would be interested.

Oh and what was that cheque from January 1993? A cheque from Davy.