Dublin pay-off scandal deepens block on naming

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The Independent Online
The scandal over pay-offs to Dublin politicians deepened last night as both the Prime Minister and Speaker of the Dail urged TDs (MPs) not to name the former Fianna Fail cabinet minister who received IRpounds 1.1m secretly from Irish supermarket chief Ben Dunne through different London bank accounts.

Sean Treacy, the Speaker, warned against naming individuals outside the chamber in a way that might prejudice official investigations. The Prime Minister, John Bruton, urged that members refer such allegations to relevant authorities to be dealt with by due process.

The cheques and 100 others to politicians, business figures, and a broadcaster are included in a report prepared for Dunnes Stores, Ireland's second largest supermarket chain, by accountants Price Waterhouse.The affair has already led to the weekend resignation of Irish transport minister Michael Lowry over 1992 payments of IRpounds 208,000 from Mr Dunne. In last night's Dail debate on appointing former Fine Gael party leader Alan Dukes as Mr Lowry's successor, opposition parties demanded to know what if any favours Mr Dunne had received from Mr Lowry. Progressive Democrat leader Mary Harney said: "We should be told if Ben Dunne benefited financially from any decision made by Mr Lowry or by his Department."

She then asked if the Taoiseach was made aware that Mr Lowry "held a loan from Dunnes Stores after his appointment as minister." She urged Mr Bruton to publish what Mr Lowry said about his interests when he became a minister in 1994.

Earlier, Bertie Ahern, leader of Fianna Fail, said he was "totally satisfied" with assurances from each of his current front bench that none had been the recipient of the pounds 1.1m London payments. Today he will ask for the same assurances from all members of his parliamentary party and MEPs.