The Irish Government is bracing itself for more fallout from the Flood Tribunal — the statutory inquiry set up to investigate political corruption in Ireland.
The Tribunal’s first report has already become a best seller. It found former Fianna Fail Minister Ray Burke to be “corrupt,” having accepted bribes from some of the country’s leading businessmen and property developers.
The damning report also found that one of the Taoiseach’s most trusted advisors, P.J. Mara, was found not to have co-operated with the inquiry in relation to funds he held in offshore accounts. As a result he was forced to resign as director of elections during the recent Nice campaign.
But the Flood Tribunal isn’t over. The next phase of the investigation will examine allegations that former Fianna Fail Minister and EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn took bribes from another property developer. It will also look at the activities of Dublin TD Liam Lawlor, who has already served two terms in jail for failing to cooperate with the Tribunal.
The Taoiseach Bertie Ahem appointed Lawlor to the parliament’s ethics committee.
The Flood Tribunal is also investigating claims that a serving Government Minister took £80,000 in bribes from a property developer.
Bertie Ahem is known as the “Teflon Taoiseach” because until now he has never been tainted by political corruption within his own party — Fianna Fail.
But since Ahem was reelected in May the electorate has turned on the party and, uncharacteristically, on him. He has seen his personal rating in the opinion polls fall by 19 per cent to an all-time low.
In recent months Ahem has faced increasing scrutiny about decisions he made granting tax favors to individual businessmen.
Former Fianna Fail leader Charles Haughey, who received millions of pounds from Irish business interests, once described his protégé Ahem as the “most clever, the most cunning, the most devious of them all.” It seems that Ahem will have to live up to the description if he is to survive the series of scandals bedeviling his party. ♦