By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – A new squeaky clean charter for fund-raising and the acceptance of political donations is being drawn up by Fianna Fail, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced at a two-day party conference in Cavan to review policies after a year in government.
The move comes in the wake of renewed controversy surrounding two donations of _30,000 each to former Foreign Affairs Minister Ray Burke.
A range of sleaze allegations surrounding political gifts are being probed by two judicial tribunals and public hearings will begin when a number of court challenges have been dealt with.
There is growing concern in Leinster House about what revelations may emerge from the evidence of witnesses in both tribunals and their effect on political stability.
Legal staff attached to the tribunals have been carrying out wide-ranging investigations and gathering evidence in preparation for the hearings
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Ahern said the party’s new charter would be in place by next January and would go over and above the requirements laid down in ethics legislation.
“We will be examining by way of a party discussion document any other measures needed to ensure the highest probity in politics and public life generally,” Ahern said. “Other parties should not rely on anyone getting back into government by default, on the emergence of something that is, or can be represented as, reflecting badly on Fianna Fail as a whole.
“All of use are determined that good work in government will not be impaired or cast aside, because we have not kept on top of matters that raise ethical issues.”
The reforms will mean closer scrutiny on fund raising by local cumman treasurers and closer monitoring by Fianna Fail head office of what is happening in branches.