herald

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Forget Bertie - how FG plotted to target Martin

FINE Gael is set to target Micheal Martin in the Mahon Tribunal in an effort to totally destabilise Fianna Fail.

The Herald understands that the Government party has given their politicians a detailed briefing on Mr Martin's connections to the tribunal.

A source said: "There is a plan in place to link Micheal Martin to the old Fianna Fail and ultimately corruption.

"Nobody is saying for a second that he is corrupt, but he was politically reared by and remained unquestionably loyal to two national leaders, both of whom accepted large sums of money."

Mr Martin was today facing allegations of "blind loyalty" to Bertie Ahern. Fine Gael sources explained to the Herald today that Mr Ahern is "toast" but Micheal Martin is "trying to pretend this isn't linked to him".

Regret

Last night the Fianna Fail leader issued a strong statement in which he said it was "a matter of profound personal and professional regret" that the report showed Mr Ahern "fell short of the standard of personal behaviour which is expected of the holders of high office".

He added: "In the manner in which he received this money while holding high office and in the giving of rejected evidence to a sworn tribunal Bertie Ahern betrayed the trust placed in him by this country and this party."

However, over the coming days Enda Kenny and his ministers have a plan to repeatedly point out how Mr Martin was in Ahern's "inner circle" throughout his final years in power.

They will argue that Mr Martin was part of a three-man team, along with Dermot Ahern and Brian Cowen, who formulated a strategy to get Mr Ahern's government re-elected in 2007.

"He was in the inner circle. He stood squarely with him, knowing the then taoiseach had serious questions to answer," said a Fine Gael source.

As heat started to pile on Bertie Ahern in early 2008, Mr Martin said he had confidence in the Dublin Central politician's ability to lead the government and the country.

Revelations

"I have known the taoiseach for many, many years and I have absolutely no doubt that all of his decisions were made in the public interest," Mr Martin said on February 10, 2008.

Three days later, after further revelations about Mr Ahern were divulged to the Mahon Tribunal, the taoiseach had to face the Dail. Most Fianna Fail TDs stayed out of the chamber but Noel Dempsey and Micheal Martin sat beside him.

A source told the Herald: "Fianna Fail is at its weakest ever. Fine Gael has no intention of taking a kick-them-while-they-are-down approach but it's time to stamp out the old regime that has existed in Leinster House.

"It was interesting that it was the young TDs that were repeatedly sent out yesterday. There was very little sign of Martin, Willie O'Dea or Eamon O Cuiv all day. It was Dara Caleary and Thomas Byrne leading the way."

hnews@herald.ie

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