Haughey pounds 2m tax concession is condemned

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The Independent Online
IRELAND'S CENTRE and left opposition parties yesterday united in their condemnation of the unexplained reduction of a pounds 2m tax assessment to zero against former Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

The Dail held a special debate following the revelation that tax commissioner Ronan Kelly, the brother-in-law of current Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, had made the tax ruling, despite a judicial tribunal's finding that Mr Haughey had received gifts of at least pounds 1.3m from businessman Ben Dunne.

The Labour leader Ruairi Quinn said ordinary taxpayers feel"fooled and duped", whilethe Democratic Left party's finance spokesman Pat Rabbitte said that, given the "cavalier fashion" finance minister Charles McCreevy had dismissed the affair, "I suppose we should be thankful Mr Haughey didn't ask for a rebate."

Mr Rabbitte added, "when Mr Haughey paraded his retinue like an Arab sheikh around this country for so many years, the Revenue Commissioners could never see anything wrong with it. It never occurred to them to ask any questions."

John Gormley of the Green Party said people seeing Mr Haughey's portrait in the Dail "invariably ask the question`what is it doing there?' Charles J Haughey looks down at us with that imperious stare, and what does it say? It says `you are mere minions. I am above you. I am above the law.' Well let the message go out today, your day will come."

In response, Mr Ahern said he had had no contact with Mr Kelly, about the Haughey case and he rejected any suggestion that his brother-in-law had acted with anything other than "professional integrity".

Mr Ahern said "The decision came as a complete surprise to me, as it did to everyone. I have no insight into either the details of this case or of the decision."

Revenue Commissioners are expected to appeal against the decision in the courts.