Kenny Calls on Ahern to Resign
It’s a pity that Enda Kenny didn’t take on Bertie Ahern about his finances in the run-up to last year’s election. But, better late than never, the Fine Gael leader has made a powerful statement about the extent of the Taoiseach’s deceptions, any one which would have forced his resignation in a normally functioning democracy. Here is Kenny’s explanation of why Bertie Ahern should now resign: >>>
Extracts from Statement by Enda Kenny
With prices and unemployment rising and tax revenue and house prices falling the Taoiseach and his Government have serious problems of their own making that they should be 100% focused on. Unfortunately for the taxpayer struggling to pay a mortgage or a patient trying to access urgent health care this Taoiseach and his Cabinet are constantly being distracted and diverted from their day jobs by the circus of fantasy and fairytale surrounding the Taoiseach’s financial affairs. Too often the Taoiseach and this Cabinet are obliged to explain the unexplainable and defend the indefensible.
I again call on the Taoiseach to step down. Given that the cowardly Cabinet, whether the Greens, PDs or Fianna Fail, are unwilling to force this outcome it is clear that the only person in a position to end this sorry saga is the Tánaiste, Brian Cowen. The man who declared that he did not need the Greens to keep him honest should now recognise that it is not acceptable to have a Taoiseach
- who cannot declare compliance with the tax codes,
- who cannot explain €300,000 worth of lodgements to his accounts and
- who has clearly misled the public and the Dáil over his inexplicable finances.
If Mr Ahern does not step down, then the Tánaiste should act.
Since September 2006, at every turn, the Taoiseach has portrayed himself as somebody who has been put upon and victimised. He has lashed out at the media, at the Mahon Tribunal and anyone who questions his extraordinary stories. The reality is that the only person responsible for the difficulties the Taoiseach now finds himself in is the Taoiseach himself.
- It is Mr Ahern who had €300,000 in today’s terms lodged, in cash, to his or his partners accounts over a two year period.
- It is Mr Ahern whose explanations for those lodgements have changed by the day and remain as incredible as ever.
- It is Mr Ahern who has misled the Irish people in relation to his tax affairs.
- It is Mr Ahern who is not in a position as a serving Taoiseach to assure the Irish people that his tax affairs are in order.
Scarcely a week goes by without yet another contradiction of what the Taoiseach has already said or new information which adds further to the extraordinary stories of the large amounts of money washing around his accounts in the mid 1990s.
Before he appeared at the Mahon Tribunal he assured everyone that he couldn’t wait to get before the judges and give a full and categorical explanation for his personal finances. Now that he has had six days at the Tribunal he is complaining that he is being victimised in some way and treated differently from other witnesses.
The Taoiseach seems to have forgotten that as with Mr Ray Burke, the late Mr Liam Lawlor, Mr George Redmond and Mr Frank Dunlop the tribunal is following the money trail – a tried, tested and successful method for tribunals of enquiry.
As Deputy Ahern himself said in the Dáil in September 1997
“following the money is the most efficient and effective way to progress this type of enquiry”.
I believe that as he faces yet another length of questioning at the Tribunal, the Taoiseach is at a crossroads. He has a clear choice.
- He can maintain his convoluted reconstructions, his selective memory, his reinterpretation of what the English language means. If he takes this path he condemns the Irish people to further months of revelation, claim and counter claim. He erodes further the reputation and authority of the Office of the Taoiseach. He demeans the profession of politics and most worrying of all he increases the cynicism about politics, a cynicism which was primed by his predecessor Mr Charles J Haughey.
- Or Mr Ahern can go into the Tribunal and give one full comprehensive and truthful account of his personal finances. A “warts and all” confession which lays out clearly for the Irish people what amounts of money he received, who gave them to him and why they were given to him.
The longer that Mr Ahern denies the truth to the Irish people the greater the damage will be to his political reputation and legacy when he leaves Office as he proposes to do in the time ahead.
I make this appeal to the Taoiseach because I believe that the Irish people want an explanation from him which they can believe. The Irish people want an end to this charade and they want the Government and the Dáil to focus on the many challenges facing the country as the economy tightens, many public services continue under performing and crime remains ever present on our streets.
As a the country faces a range of serious economic and social challenges, the capacity of Government and politics in general to tackle these issues is diminished and distracted by the Taoiseach’s behaviour. Government mishandling of issues like driving licences, water charges and Ministerial pay increases is clear evidence of a Government at odds with itself, lacking leadership and direction and unsure and unable to make decisions in the public interest.