Mahon Report

Mahon Report

IT Thu, Mar 22
 

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  • This event has now ended
  • 09:00
    It's here. The final report of the Mahon tribunal has just been published on the inquiry's website [www.planningtribunal.ie]
  • 09:02
    Publication of Judge Mahon's 3,270-page report this morning brings to an end the longest running and most expensive public inquiry in Irish history. Given the scale of the report and the likely political fallout, we'll be liveblogging for the day. By the way, feel free to send us any remarks, comments or observations.
  • 09:10
    Fifteen years in the making and with costs heading towards €300 million, the inquiry has held 917 days of public hearings and gathered evidence from more than 400 witnesses. Hundreds of journalists across the country are now poring over the report and, in particular, what it has to say about the former Fianna Fail supremo Bertie Ahern. Several journalist colleagues in here had prayed for an executive summary and it appears their wishes were answered.
  • 09:14
    The tribunal has categorically rejected evidence from Bertie Ahern that he received unsolicited “dig-outs” from friends to help him through his legal separation.
  • 09:20
    Eugene But, from early indications, they didn't find Bertie Ahern CORRUPT which was the central allegation!!
  • 09:25
    It's true, the tribunal has not found a finding of corruption against Mr Ahern. However, it has rejected the former taoiseach's evidence out of hand. The distinction appears to be between receiving money in unorthodox circumstances and recieving money in return for favours. The tribunal has found evidence of the former and not of the latter.
  • 09:31
    A lot of readers have been asking if the Irish Times website will be uploading the report. Here's the link http://www.irishtimes.com/focus/2012/mahon/index.pdf
  • 09:34
    Here's one of the most damning lines we've read so far about Bertie Ahern. "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."
  • 09:34
    Eugene Sure, but it must be dissapointing for journalists across the spectrum that they can't say today that Bertie was corrupt. And thats €300 million later.
  • 09:37
    One reader, Conor, has calculated the report cost the taxpayer approximately €90,000 a page. Is this true? Brilliant stat
  • 09:39
    Following allegations that he had received payments from developer Owen O'Callaghan, the tribunal investigated the finances of Bertie Ahern. The tribunal said it could not determine whether or not payments to Mr Ahern were made by, or initiated or arranged, directly or indirectly by Owen O’Callaghan.
  • 09:44
    Ok here's another finding and, this time, it is one of corruption. Former minister and EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn "having wrongfully and corruptly sought a substantial donation from (developer) Tom Gilmartin for the Fianna Fáil Party, and having been paid IR£50,000 by Mr Gilmartin for that purpose, proceeded to utilise the money for his personal benefit".
  • 09:51
  • 09:57
    The controversial FF deputy Liam Lawlor, who died in a car crash in Russia in 2005, featured in several of the tribunal's modules. The inquiry's final statement on the politician goes as follows: "Mr Lawlor's demands for payments, and his acceptance of money in these circumstances were enitrely inappropriate and were corrupt." 
  • 09:58
    Guest Interesting bit in Chapter 2 Part 6 Section A 1,233 "On 21 June 1991, Riga Ltd made a political contribution of IR£5,000 to Mr Micheál Martin’s Local Election campaign"
  • 09:58
    @josephcorr Is the information in the Mahon report sufficient for Micheál Martin to expel Bertie from the Fianna Fail party? Somehow I doubt it. Anyway, who cares? Let them languish together in political obscurity. What a total waste of money. All it's doing is telling us less than many of us already know.
  • 10:00
    Back in the day: A heckler is removed from the Dublin Castle venue.
    Back in the day: A heckler is removed from the Dublin Castle venue.
  • 10:10
    Here's another damning finding. This time against the FF party as a whole. In relation to the concept of senior government figures and ministers seeking financial contributions from businessmen who were in turn lobbying government to support various commercial projects, the tribunal says this was entirely inappropriate, and represented "an abuse of political power and government authority". 
  • 10:11
    Dom If Bertie didn't give truthful answers (whether he was corrupt or not) then why is the tax payer paying his bill!! Mahon has fudged it and let the boyos off the hook, more golden circle crap in action. When are we going to hold Hesse people accountable!
  • 10:12
    Former lobbyist Frank Dunlop
    Former lobbyist Frank Dunlop
  • 10:21
    The tribunal's report, in its introduction, asks why the corruption evident in the planning  system was allowed to continue for so long. The reason, it suggests, is that “corruption affected every level of Irish political life, those with the power to stop it were frequently implicated in it”. It adds that the apathy on the part of the public towards corruption means that there was insufficient pressure to compel their representatives to take firm action to to curtail it.
  • 10:29
    Incidentally, the inquiry says it generated 60,000 pages of transcripts in the course its investigations. Your heart goes out to the stenographers involved in that mountain.
  • 10:30
    Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has told the Dáil that he wants to take the opportunity to read the Mahon report before responding to it.
  • 10:50
    Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called a meeting of senior FF figures to discuss the Mahon report this evening. There's mounting speculation that Mr Martin may move against Mr Ahern following today's damning findings against the former taoiseach. There is some doubt, however, as to whether Mr Ahern is still officially a member of Fianna Fáil. Mr Ahern did attend the party's recent ardfheis at which Mr Martin said he would take "swift and comprehensive action against any member of Fianna Fáil named in the Mahon report as having abused their position in office".
  • 10:51
    Back in the day: Bertie Ahern arrives to give evidence
    Back in the day: Bertie Ahern arrives to give evidence
  • 11:06
    Fianna Fáil deputy Dara Calleary says he feels “betrayed” by the content of the fifth and final report from the planning inquiry, although he has declined to comment on specific findings.
  • 11:20
    Here's another interesting element of the report which relates to more recent times. “In 2007-2008 at a time when this Tribunal was inquiring into matters relating to Bertie Ahern, the then taoiseach, it came under sustained and virulent attack from a number of senior Government ministers who questioned, inter alia, the legality of its inquiries as well as the integrity of its members.”
  • 11:21
    A Wordle graphic highlighting the most used words in the Mahon tribunal's 3,000-plus page final report
    A Wordle graphic highlighting the most used words in the Mahon tribunal's 3,000-plus page final report
  • 11:36
    A spokesman for Mr Ahern has just released a statement which says: “Mr Bertie Ahern is reviewing the final report of the Mahon Tribunal and will issue a statement in due course.
  • 11:37
    thomas So we have now found out what we all know was true, great and the best part of it we are still paying these corrupt politicians big fat pensions. when will it end?
  • 11:40
    Newspaper columnist Elaine Byrne tweets: "Dear Mahon Tribunal, why does the online report not give permission to copy and paste into another document? Life is difficult enough." Tell me about it!
  • 11:41
  • 11:47
    The tribunal said it was satisfied that complaints made to the Garda during a 1989 corruption investigation by Tom Gilmartin about Liam Lawlor, George Redmond and Cllr Finbarr Hanrahan were not “thoroughly investigated”. Mr Lawlor’s position as a TD was a likely reason why he was not interviewed by the Garda, the tribunal said, but that it was puzzled as to why the Garda went to such lengths to exonerate Mr Lawlor and Mr Redmond.
  • 11:55
    Enda Kenny may give a standup interview at around lunchtime near Leinster House. Several Fianna Fail spokespeople have already been out. Most have couched their language very carefully. We will have to await until the outcome of its special meeting tonight. Clearly, very very decisive action will need to be taken by the party against Bertie Ahern and against others.
  • 12:00
    Journalist Sam Smyth tells RTÉ Radio it's obvious Bertie was making "dog ate my homework excuses" in relation to his financial affairs to the tribunal, to the media and to his coalition partners in government.  On same programme, accountant Des Peelo - a financial adviser to the former taoiseach - says though much of the revelations surrounding Mr Ahern's dealings sound bizarre that does not make them untrue.
  • 12:06
  • 12:12
    Members of the media wait outside former taoiseach Bertie Ahern's house in Dublin today
    Members of the media wait outside former taoiseach Bertie Ahern's house in Dublin today
  • 12:12
    Sean Mc Phillips Mahon is 'puzzled' as to why Gardai went to such lenghts to exonerate Lawlor and Redmond.These individuals and their likes have never, ever been pursued by the judicial system in Ireland.For years Haughey was escorted around the small towns of Ireland, in the middle of the night ,by the same gardai, collecting untold sums of punts from corrupt meat barons .So dont hold your breath .
  • 12:14
    Government has justed issued a statement on the Mahon report, saying it will refer the report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners and to the Standards in Public Office Commission. The statement also said a three-day Dáil debate on the report will take place next week. "The Government will consider the findings and recommendations next Tuesday," it said.
  • 12:15
    Niall Collins of Fianna Fail has said that party leader Micheal Martin will make a statement tonight following meeting of officer board of the party, followed by a news conference tomorrow. Also said he has asked Clerk of the Dail to refer the report to DPP. Fianna Fail will be very much backfooted by this, especially slating of public spinning against Tribunal by then government ministers and the culture of corruption within Irish politics at which FF was at the centre.
  • 12:19
    RTÉ Radio presenter Seán O’Rourke has just asked FF frontbench spokesman Niall Collins whether Fianna Fáil should continue to exist given today's findings and given how sullied the party's reputation and credibility is. An unthinkable question just a few years ago.
  • 12:33
    The report clearly shows that long after the Haughey era corruption was still rampant within Fianna Fáil, Minister for Environment Phil Hogan says.
  • 12:34
    Washington Post is reporting: "Former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern received at least €209,779  in secret payments while in office and repeatedly told lies about this under oath, a mammoth fact-finding investigation ruled Thursday in a long-awaited verdict."
  • 12:36
    Enda Kenny has made his first public comment on the report at lunchtime saying the report set out in a very direct fashion the conduct of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern. He also said it has been sent to four bodies: the DPP, the Garda Siochana; the Standards in Public Office Commission; and the Revenue Commissioners.
  • 12:40
    Cork developer Owen O'Callaghan, who features in several of the tribunal's investigations, has just released a statement, saying he intends to seek a judicial review of the inquiry's findings in the High Court. He says he rejects the tribunal's findings, and describes them as "biased, unfair and unjust".
  • 12:42
  • 12:48
    More from my colleague Mary Minihan on Taoiseach Enda Kenny's statement. “The tribunal speaks for itself. A litany of unacceptable statements from the former taoiseach.” Asked if he was surprised by what he read, Mr Kenny said he was.
  • 12:56
    The late FF deputy Liam Lawlor attending the tribunal in 2003
    The late FF deputy Liam Lawlor attending the tribunal in 2003
  • 12:59
    Brian Anglim tweets: "Fine Gael is loving all this. Disguises nicely from the fact that we've officially slipped back into recession today".
  • 13:04
    My colleague Simon Carswell describes the above passage as the strongest paragraph in the report
    My colleague Simon Carswell describes the above passage as the strongest paragraph in the report
  • 13:29
    PR consultant and RTÉ soccer anchor Bill O’Herlihy is one of only a few prominent people to emerge from this sorry tale of corruption and abuse of political power with his reputation intact. Mr O’Herlihy was called to give evidence about a meeting he had with former Monarch Properties executive Richard Lynn in the Royal Dublin Hotel in 1992.

    The tribunal said it was satisfied that Mr O’Herlihy's account of the discussion at the meeting and, in particular, his recollection of the information given to him by Mr Lynn was accurate, and that his testimony had been honest and given in good faith.

    The tribunal said it was satisfied that Mr Lynn conveyed information to Mr O’Herlihy to the effect that Monarch had paid substantial sums to councillors in an effort to secure the rezoning of Cherrywood lands and that Cllr Don Lydon was the lead councillor involved in this activity.
  • 13:43
    My colleague has just pointed out that Bill O’Herlihy's fellow RTÉ soccer panelist Eamon Dunphy was also deemed to have given evidence "honestly". The tribunal said it was satisfied that he had not "embellished" or altered his testimony in any way as was alleged at the time. Mr Dunphy was called to give evidence about the details of a discussion he had with developer Owen O'Callaghan regarding Bertie Ahern.
  • 14:27
    Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins says the Mahon report is a damning indictment of the corrupt nexus beween developers and establishment politicians especially from "Fine Fáil". I'm presuming that was a deliberate use of the construction "Fine Fáil".
  • 14:43
    Maybe it's time to briefly go through the inquiry's main findings again.

    - Much of the explanation provided by Ahern about his financial dealings was “untrue”.

    - The tribunal was unable to determine if Ahern received corrupt payments from developer Owen O’Callaghan

    - Attacks on the tribunal by government ministers in 2007/08 were designed to "collapse its inquiry” into Ahern

    - Padraig Flynn received IR£50,000 from developer Tom Gilmartin to “remove obstacles” in relation to Quarryvale site
     
    - Complaints to the Garda about Liam Lawlor, George Redmond and Cllr Finbarr Hanrahan were not “thoroughly investigated”
     
    - Requests Albert Reynolds and Ahern seeking donations to the Fianna Fáil party represented "an abuse of political power"
     
    - Former FF member Liam Lawlor abused his role as an elected public representative

     -  Corruption in the planning system because it “affected every level of Irish political life”
  • 14:55
  • 15:00
    Anti-corruption organisation Transparency International Ireland has urged the Government to radically reform how corruption is investigated in the wake of today's report. "It took 15 years and some €300 million to find out what the gardaí and Standards in Public Office Commission should have exposed. The problem was law enforcement agencies were never allowed to do their job," said the group's chief executive John Devitt.
    "Public trust and confidence in the State’s political institutions is at rock bottom and the government needs to take swift action to ensure state agencies can properly investigate allegations or suspicions of wrongdoing."
  • 15:15
    My colleague Laura Slattery compares the tribunal's report to other notoriously long documents with some interesting conclusions in her latest blog post. Here's the link http://iti.ms/GHulNF

  • 15:23
    Bertie Ahern leaving Dublin Castle after giving evidence in 2008
    Bertie Ahern leaving Dublin Castle after giving evidence in 2008
  • 15:29
    Here are some of the tribunal's recommendations:
    - Courts should be allowed to ban members of the Oireachtas who are convicted of bribery 
    - Whistleblower legislation should be made more robust
    - A planning regulator should be appointed to give direction to local and regional planning authorities 
    - The political finance acts should be changed to place new limits on amounts that can be given in donations
    - There should be a new register of lobbyists
  • 15:45
    A new Gubu is born: “astounding, incredible and untrue”. My colleague Harry McGee has just filed his piece for the web on developer Tom Gilmartin's "corrupt" payment of IR£50,000 to former minister and EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn in 1989. The report described the former Mayo politician’s explanation of how he handled Mr Gilmartin’s payment, and other sums, as “astounding, incredible and untrue”. Read more http://tinyurl.com/8ykdp43
  • 16:31
    The Government’s first response should be to reverse Minister Phil Hogan’s decision to block any review of the most worst rezoning scandals, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said.  Mr Ryan said the report reveals in shocking detail the existence of widespread corruption within the Irish political system. “We need to put in place further checks against corruption, but we also need to change the whole clientelist model of Irish politics, which can so easily evolve into such corrupt practice."
  • 16:47
    Some wag on Twitter is tweeting that Bertie Ahern will be signing copies of the Mahon Tribunal report in Easons tomorrow at 12 o'clock. Very funny. Hard copies of the report are, however, not available for several weeks, according to the tribunal.
  • 16:47
    Guest You would have to feel sorry for P. Flynn nonetheless. It's not easy maintaining three houses.
  • 16:54
    sheilakk I absolutely agree with having Minister Phil Hogans decision on the zoning scandals being reversed. That has to be revisited !!
  • 17:17
    Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Niall Collins has called on Minister for Environment Phil Hogan to reopen the independent inquiries into planning irregularities in five local authorities, echoing earlier calls by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. The inquiries, established by the last government, were shut down by the Mr Hogan shortly after taking up office last year.
  • 17:18
    Aidan J. ffrench Just heard Junior Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O'Sullivan (Lab T.D) interviewed by Matt Cooper, making all the usual excuses why Government can't remove pensions rights from those identified in report as fraudulent liars and corrupt, i.e messrs. Ahern, Flynn and Burke. Plus ca change. Strange how the political class can act urgently for the likes of Larry Goodman, rushing thro emergency legislation. Labour are pathetic!
  • 17:33

    Micheal Martin has just said he accepts the Tribunal's findings against Bertie Ahern. Says that Tribunal's rejection of his evidence is "serious finding in itself".
  • 17:35
    He is speaking on RTE's Six-One. Says a meeting of officer board. Will be presented with synopsis. There are procedures. "I regard it as extremelty serious. Action will have to follow".
    Bryan Dobson asking is it tenable that he can stay a member?
    Martin has said within a short period that he will have an answer.
    He said, under repeated questioning, that he was not going to preempt the outcome of the meeting.
  • 17:41
    The issue of the harsh criticism by Fianna Fail ministers who attacked the Tribunal when Bertie Ahern gave evidence has come up. Micheal Martin has said he has difficultiy in identifying who is being blamed because no names have been mentioned.
    He has rejected the finding that there was an attempt to collapse the Tribunal. It seems that no action will be taken against Willie O'Dea, one of those seen to have carped at the Tribunal's treatment of Bertie Ahern. This will cause difficulties for Fianna Fail.
  • 17:43
    Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says he accepts the findings of the tribunal in full and, specifically,  in relation to Bertie Ahern. Speaking on RTE's Six One News, Mr Martin said the politicians implicated in the report had "betrayed the trust of the Irish people and the trust of Fianna Fáil".

    On whether Mr Ahern should remain a member of the  party, Mr Martin said he planned to discuss the matter with senior party colleagues at a meeting in Leinster House tonight but said there were procedures to be followed when it came to possible disciplinary action against individual members.
  • 19:20
    Officer board meeting of Fianna Fail still going on. Going on experience, it will be out soon.
  • 19:46
    Bertie Ahern has issued a statement responding to the Tribunal's findings.
    Key line rejecting the Tribunal's findings:" I am disappointed that the Tribunal has said that I failed to give a
    truthful account.
    "That statement is unfair and inaccurate having
    regard to the evidence. It is one that I cannot and I will never
    accept and I will continue to examine ways in which to vindicate my
    name."
  • 20:08
    From Mary Mihihan: Fianna Faill leader Micheal Martin has recommended that former leader Bertie Ahern be expelled from the party following the findings of the planning tribunal report. Officer meeting still going on. Also saying st Luke's organisation shoudl be stood down. Statement form Fianna Fail to follow.
  • 20:13
    Bertie Ahern's statement runs to almost 900 words and rejects all the findings against him. His argument: there was no basis to the central allegation made against him, that he received money from Owen O'Callaghan. He says that on the basis of that the Tribunal had no mandate to trawl through his personal finances.
    He has maintained he never renever received a corrupt payment, had never did anything to demean any office he had held.
    "I never made a poltiical decision in return for a payment."
  • 20:20
    We are wrapping up the live blog after a very eventful day, most of it captured by our colleague Eoin Burke Kennedy, who did heroics. Thanks also to Mary Minihan for regular updates and insights.