Ahern issued his mea culpa to a tense D_il sitting and was immediately assailed by opposition leaders after he concluded his statement.
However, as of presstime, it appeared as if the coalition government of Fianna F_il and the Progressive Democrats was holding together and the possibility of a snap general election seemed less likely.
The consensus appeared to be that Ahern had been damaged by the payments affair, but that his leadership of Fianna F_il and the government was not in any immediate danger.
Throughout his statement, Ahern repeatedly insisted that he had not been in breach of any law or code of ethics at the time he received the payments, which, he has repeatedly stated, were intended to help him cover legal fees arising from the separation case involving himself and his former wife, Miriam.
The money was paid back to the donors by Ahern a few days ago.
“It was not illegal or non-permissible to have done what I did,” Ahern told the D_il.
“But I now regret the choices I made in those difficult and dark times. The bewilderment caused to the public about recent revelations have been deeply upsetting to those near and dear to me. To them, Ceann Comhairle (speaker of the house), to the Irish people, to this House, I offer my apologies.”
Ahern, who was finance minister at the time of the payments, acknowledged that the rules and codes that apply to ministers today are more rigorous than they were in the early 1990s.
He spoke in particular about an acceptance of IR