A Report by the Mahon Tribunal into corrupt payments to politicians is expected to be published in the near future.
The Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan recently called for the publication of the Report which is being finalized by Judge Alan Mahon.
The Report is expected to be critical of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, prompting the current Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin to make a statement regarding the Party’s culpability.
FIANNA FÁIL leader Micheál Martin and party officials are working on a strategy to respond to the Mahon tribunal report, especially potentially adverse findings against former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
The party has taken the view at the highest level that the final report of the planning tribunal, chaired by Judge Alan Mahon, will be a watershed moment for the party, and particularly for Mr Martin.
… Among the known events, or at least presumed events of 2012, is the publication of the Mahon tribunal report. Mind you, its publication was also presumed at the beginning of 2011. However, publication does now seem imminent. Notwithstanding the fact that it will deal with past events and that the main focus will be on now retired Bertie Ahern, the report is still likely to have a significant political impact.
It will be interesting to see what view the tribunal takes of the extent of its terms of reference and the extent to which it can comment on the detail of Ahern’s personal financial arrangements as revealed in evidence. The very publication of the report will do further damage to his reputation and may create a political storm.
Much of the report’s likely content was revealed in evidence at the tribunal in 2007 and 2008 but at a time when Ahern enjoyed majority public approval ratings. It must be remembered that he secured re-election as taoiseach in 2007 despite public knowledge of many of the most damning allegations. Now, however, his reputation and that of his party are greatly diminished.
The Mahon report and consequent public reaction will present particular difficulties for the current Fianna Fáil leader at a time when his party’s position continues to be vulnerable. Not only will it serve as a reminder of those aspects of Fianna Fáil’s recent past which have proved most toxic with voters, it will also test in a very public way the new leader’s contention that the party has turned over a new leaf.
Coverage of the report’s publication will be accompanied by replays of clips of Ahern’s then ministers defending his evidence to the tribunal. There is every possibility that the report will be so damning of Ahern’s actions that it will lead to demands from those anxious to renew the party’s image that Ahern be censured or even expelled from the party. Any such moves are likely to be met with real resistance from the sizeable pro-Ahern lobby in the party and even from Ahern himself.