Tuesday, September 26, 2006

With a little help from my friends

In 1993 and 1994 Bertie Ahern was earning a salary well in excess of the average wage. Yet, he was so financially strapped that his friends had to bail him out to the tune of nearly £40,000. Bertie's just the latest proof that politicians do a better job of making friends than do the rest of us.

Here's a political insight that you probably won't find anywhere else: it's not a good idea for the Minister for Finance to be getting gifts of £39,000 (€49,530) from his friends. The Taoiseach tells us that the money was to cover his legal bills from his divorce. Hmmm.

I'm no expert in these matters, but this sounds like a very expensive divorce. £39,000 was not chicken feed in those days - you could get a three bedroom house in Celbridge for about that much.

The Taoiseach said he broke "no codes - ethical, tax, legal or otherwise". I guess we'll have to take his word for that. The Taoiseach also says "£20,000 of those payments from friends were put towards providing for the education of his two daughters". This statement is very interesting as it seems to indicate that the Taoiseach did not anticipate being able to meet those costs from his annual salary. Maybe he thought he'd lose his political career and earning capacity? If not, then why was his daughters' education suddenly beyond his means?

I can't help wondering if he mentioned these funds to his wife. We know nothing about the divorce, so all we can do is speculate. However, it's possible that she intended to 'make him hurt' and this money may have spared him any 'hurt'. Maybe she could even have claimed a share of this "income"?

I like Bertie Ahern and I think he's done a good job, but this just looks odd, bad, wrong. If he was just a top accountant with money troubles this (the gifts, loans, whatever) would never have seen the light of day, but that's one of the downsides to working in politics. Everything you do is subjected to scrutiny. I can't see how he can continue, but I'm always wrong trying to predict what will happen in Irish politics.