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Tribunal finds Cong man purchased house for Ahern

Tribunal finds Cong man purchased house for Ahern

Claims put forward by Mahon Tribunal that sterling was handed over in a bag to former Taoiseach

Rowan Gallagher

A MAYO-born businessman purchased a house in Dublin specifically to give it to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, according to the Mahon Tribunal.
The tribunal found that Mr Michael Wall, a Cong native, never beneficially owned a house he purchased in Drumcondra, Dublin and left the house to Mr Ahern in a will.
The tribunal was satisfied that a will made in 1996, which left 44 Beresford Avenue, Drumcondra to Mr Ahern was  ‘a mechanism designed to provide Mr Ahern with a degree of asset protection in respect of the property’.
According to evidence given to the tribunal, both parties informally agreed that Mr Wall would purchase the house, later agreeing that Mr Ahern would rent the house off him and that Ahern would have the option to buy the property at any time.
The house hunting was predominantly done by Ms Celia Larkin, Mr Ahern’s girlfriend at the time.
Mr Wall was operating a successful coach business at the time in Manchester, Walls’s Coaches. According to the businessman, he intended to begin operating in Dublin and needed the house for increasingly frequent visits. He never opened a branch of his coach business in Dublin.
By March 30, 1995, the house had been purchased by Mr Wall for IR£138,000 and Mr Ahern’s option to purchase was never legally formalised. In September of the same year Mr Ahern began living in the house, for which he did not sign a tenancy agreement until 1997.
It was claimed that Mr Wall gave approximately £30,000 to Mr Ahern in a bag for the renovation of the house and the building of a conservatory.
Mr Wall originally claimed that he gave an even £30,000 Sterling to Mr Ahern, however, he later changed his story that it may have been mixed currency.
Mr Ahern claimed that this £30,000 Sterling was then lodged into an account to Ms Larkin for purposes of renovating the house. However, this was found to be false and that the sum lodged on December 5, 1994 was $45,000, the sum being the property of Mr Ahern. 
The circumstances whereby Mr Ahern came into procession of that amount of dollars remains unexplained by the tribunal.