Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/458/5514
"Bertiegate" scandal rocks Ahern coalition
A FINANCIAL scandal involving Ireland's Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern - "Bertiegate" - dominates Irish politics and threatens to bring down the rightwing coalition government.
Ahern went to the D‡il (Irish parliament), on 3 October, under huge pressure to explain the "loans" and "gifts" he got from businessmen, to the value of Û60,000, when Ahern was a government minister in the 1990s.
JOE HIGGINS, Socialist Party TD (MP) spoke during the Dáil debate, and condemned "the sleaze, cronyism, patronage and corruption that pervaded politics in the 1980s and 1990s".
Joe attacked the pro-big business ruling parties, Fianna Fáil (FF) and the Progressive Democrats (PD), and government ministers who defend Bertie Ahern to try to stay in power.
It was recently revealed that a businessman, Michael Wall, who sold Ahern his Dublin home, in 1997, was present at an October 1994 fund-raising function in Manchester, when Ahern received £8,000 from businessmen.
Ahern confirmed Wall did sell him his Dublin home in 1997 but claimed he did not donate him any money. Ahern claims he paid the "full market rate" for the house, but refused to say how much that was.
Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McDowell, indicated that his PDs will stand by Fianna Fáil until the next general election (due next year), unless there are further revelations.
"Yet rumours abound of at least one major expose" that could mean "the good ship FF-PD will go down with all hands onboard", according to the Irish Independent (09/10/06).
For all his self-declared financial 'transparency', Ahern intends to go ahead with High Court action to prevent a government tribunal obtaining access to some of his financial details.
Meanwhile, the Deputy PM is criticised for having "flip-flopped" on the Ahern payments affair. Before the last general election, McDowell claimed he would be a "watchdog" over coalition partners, Fianna Fáil.
The government's antics nauseate hard-pressed workers. Speaking in the Dáil, Joe Higgins - a socialist MP who lives on a workers' wage - said the Ahern government is "light years removed from the struggle of working people to spread their wages over the mortgage, child care, transport and other problems."
In The Socialist 12 October 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news