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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 08:25 GMT 09:25 UK
Tribunal exposes Irish political corruption
Ray Burke
Mr Burke held a number of key positions in government

A judge in Ireland investigating political corruption has found that a former justice minister received tens of thousands of dollars in corrupt and secret payments from businessmen.

The interim report by Mr Justice Feargus Flood details money paid to Ray Burke, a leading politician in Ireland from the 1970s up to the late 1990s.

The investigation has been in progress for five years, and 190 witnesses have given evidence.

The results are damning.

Mr Justice Feargus Flood
Justice Flood's report also criticises businessmen
As a minister, Ray Burke held a number of key positions in government, the last when he was appointed Foreign Affairs Minister in 1997 by the current Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern.

The report identifies 24 acts of corruption between 1973 and 1989.

It says Mr Burke was paid thousands of dollars by property developers, beginning with a payment for the purchase of his home in North Dublin.

In 1989, when he was Ireland's Communications Minister, the report says Mr Burke received a bribe from a group applying for a radio licence.

Mr Burke always maintained the payments were legitimate political donations.

Other leading businessmen were criticised by Mr Justice Flood for hindering the tribunal's work.

Bertie Ahern, of whose Fianna Fail party Mr Burke was a member, said he was pleased that the tribunal had got to the bottom of the affair.

One opposition leader called the report - which is to be passed to Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions - a searing indictment of Mr Burke's character and behaviour.

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