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Ulster TV: Big test for Bertie Ahern (*more corruption in the Irish Government?)

TUESDAY 3 October 2006 

Irish premier Bertie Ahern faces the biggest test of his 30-year political career when he explains to the Dail parliament about controversial 1990s cash payments.
By:Press Association  

Leaked financial records triggered an unprecedented leadership crisis for Mr Ahern which has gripped the nation and hit the headlines across the world.

Pressure is building on the premier to admit that taking the €11,800 for a function in Manchester in 1994 while Finance Minister was wrong and regrettable.

Mr Ahern, in power since 1997, has admitted that the past week has been one of the most traumatic periods of his life.

Opposition leaders are furious that Government partners, the Progressive Democrats (PDs) seem to have tempered their disgust at Mr Ahern and cut a deal to stay in office.

Frantic behind-the-scenes work continued last night between both Coalition parties to agree the text for Mr Ahern`s speech.

The premier and his deputy Michael McDowell are due to meet again before today`s weekly Cabinet meeting to discuss the statement.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte said: “The PDs sold themselves to the Irish public as the moral watchdogs of Government conduct. “Tested in the heat of this controversy, they have collapsed and lost their purpose.”

An anti-corruption demo led by the People Before Profit group is due to go ahead outside the gates of the Parliament.

Last night Transport Minister Martin Cullen insisted that the Taoiseach did nothing wrong in accepting the payment.

Mr Ahern is due to deliver his statement in the Dail chamber at 4.15pm.

Meetings of the Fianna Fail and PD parliamentary parties this evening are likely to further discuss the controversy.

(comment/explanation added by ShellNews.net)
 

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