The regime of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey has been exposed as corrupt and criminal in a scathing report by the Moriarty tribunal.
The damning report of the tribunal into Haughey’s shady dealings has branded him a political leader who “devalued democracy” in the 26 Counties.
Elected as Prime Minister of the Dublin government on three occasion -- in 1979, 1982 and 1987 -- the late Fianna Fail leader received more than nine million pounds in corrupt payments from businessmen, tycoons and society’s elite.
Some of the cash was intended for political events and elections, while thousands was supposedly raised to pay for medical care for his lifelong political ally, the late Brian Lenihan.
The current Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, a qualified accountant, played a role in the Haughey corruption by signing blank cheques, allowing the illegal slushfunds to be laundered for Fianna Fail and Haughey’s personal use.
Despite this, the 678-page Moriarty report surprisingly absolves Mr Ahern of any blame.
“Apart from the almost invariably secretive nature of payments from senior members of the business community, their very incidence and scale, particularly during difficult economic times nationally and when governments led by Mr Haughey were championing austerity, can only be said to have devalued the quality of a modern democracy,” the judge concluded.
The Moriarty Tribunal was set up in the wake of the McCracken Tribunal, which revealed Mr Haughey had received huge payments from supermarket tycoon Ben Dunne.
It found the late Fianna Fail leader lived a conspicuously lavish lifestyle, took secretive payments and tried to saddle others with the blame for his unethical financial affairs.
In 1980, the then Taoiseach was living an extravagant lifestyle but preached belt-tightening to the nation - and all the while he was being bankrolled by the rich.
The same year Allied Irish Bank wiped a staggering IR#1.1 million debt that Mr Haughey owed.
In 1989, around IR#265,000 was raised for a liver transplant operation for Mr Lenihan but the tribunal found only IR#70,000 was paid for his treatment.
“The tribunal is satisfied that a sizeable proportion of the excess funds collected was misappropriated by Mr Haughey for his personal use,” the judge ruled.
The judge also found Mr Haughey was paid fifty thousands pounds in 1985 by Saudi Arabian sheikh Mahmoud Fustok to purchase Irish passports for his relatives. Mr Haughey tried to cover it up, claiming the money was for a horse.
During the lifetime of the tribunal, Mr Haughey treated its inquiries into his financial affairs with contempt.
In its early days, his popularity with a section the Irish public remained strong as he was chauffeur-driven across Dublin Castle’s cobblestones and saluted cheering crowds with a regal wave.
Mr Haughey died aged 80 in June.