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pounds 20,000 to save Brian Lenihan's life ended up in a Haughey business account; CRACKDOWN ON SLEAZE...CRACKDOWN ON SLEAZE IRISH PERMANENT PROVIDED MONEY.

MONEY earmarked for Brian Lenihan's life-saving liver transplant was diverted to a Haughey business account.

The Moriarty Tribunal heard yesterday how the pounds 20,000 cheque ended up going into a Celtic Helicopters bank account.

The business is run by Ciaran Haughey, the son of disgraced former Taoiseach Charles.

It emerged yesterday that Irish Permanent made out two cheques for Charles Haughey in 1989.

One was for pounds 10,000 and was, according to the building society, a political donation.

At the same time, according to director Edna Hogan, the society said it felt it should help Mr Lenihan to pay for his transplant.

Another cheque for pounds 20,000 was made out and given to Mr Haughey. Although it was made out to Haughey, Irish Permanent officials said they put the name "B. Lenihan" on the stub.

The Moriarty Tribunal has discovered that both cheques were lodged as a lump sum in a Bank of Ireland account at Dublin airport.

It was revealed yesterday that this was where Celtic Helicopters carried out their business.

The controversial transaction was mentioned for the first time at the tribunal yesterday.

Further witnesses are to be called over the coming days as the legal investigation delves further into the payments.

In another development yesterday, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern confirmed he signed a pounds 25,000 Fianna Fail party cheque which ended up in another Charles Haughey account.

The cheque, with money taken from taxpayers' funds, was countersigned by Haughey.

It came from the Fianna Fail party leader's fund in AIB Baggot Street and ended up in Guinness and Mahon Bank in Haughey's account there.

Mr Ahern, in a statement to the tribunal, said he had "no recollection" of signing for the amount of pounds 25,000.

But he said he recalled signing a number of blank cheques in 1989.

A Fianna Fail secretary, Eileen Foy, who managed the leader's allowance, supported this.

She said she would have given Bertie Ahern a blank cheque and then filled in the details herself.

The cheque would then have gone to Charles Haughey to be approved and signed.

She said she never went to Mr Haughey with a blank cheque and that she always kept meticolous accounts of all transactions.

Unfortunately, she said, all her records and ledgers are now missing and cannot be found.

The tribunal says it also discovered two more lodgements into Mr Haughey's account which could have come from the party leader's allowance.

The amounts concerned are pounds 10,000 and pounds 25,000.

Last night a very rare public statement issued on behalf of Charles Haughey read: "It was Charles Haughey... who initiated and spearheaded the raising of a fund which would enable Brian Lenihan's wife and family to take him to the Mayo Clinic in the US for a life- saving transplant.

"With the help of a group of friends and supporters this was achieved and the operation was successful.

"A full statement on the utilisation of the fund subscribed will be made later when we have access to the records."
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Author:Brophy, Karl
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 15, 1999
Words:509
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