He was expecting a light interview on the sofa.
What Michael Martin got this morning, however, was a comprehensive and pretty extraordinary basting by Ireland AM’s Sinead Desmond and Mark Cagney.
Sinead Desmond: “You’re representing a new Fianna Fail, but then I was thinking about two things from your past. One of them being a – totally legitimate – donation by Owen O’Callaghan that found its way into your wife’s Dublin bank account. That seemed strange to me and had a sniff of the old Fianna Fail.
“And the second thing, in the Mahon Tribunal you were asked if you ever brought Owen O’Callaghan to meet Bertie Ahern and you said no that you would have remembered if such a thing happened. And then you were shown Mr Ahern’s ministerial diary which seemed to recollect a meeting between yourself, Bertie Ahern and Owen O’Callaghan but you said you couldn’t recall it. I’ll give you a chance to explain but both of those incidents smell of the old Fianna Fail that put ourselves in the position we find ourselves in.”
Michael Martin: “I think that’s very unfair because I gave a very comprehensive account to the Tribunal on this…You’ve picked out two things…I gave a very comprehensive account and documentary evidence to the effect in terms of that donation that the money was spent on the party’s electoral operation in that local election. We showed the receipts – we didn’t have the full receipts, but we showed the receipts also the money left very quickly in the month around the General Election itself so every political party got donations at that time and they didn’t have to declare them.
Sinead Desmond: “But it ended up in your wife’s bank account?”
Martin: “My wife and I worked together in terms of the politics at the time. There’s nothing strange about that. We both lived in Dublin for that period and so there was nothing in that. When I say I lived in Dublin I was up here during the week in the Dail. Mary worked in Dublin for that year so there’s nothing wrong with that at all and no one has ever suggested any impropriety or any wrongdoing in terms of that.”
Desmond: “Neither was I.”
Martin: “Yeah (laughs) but when it’s taken out like that in full isolation like that it creates an innuendo and it creates an issue when there was none and in fact all I was ever was asked and every TD was asked at the time was for a list of donations that they received from that gentleman (O’Callaghan).”
“And I gave them full comprehensive information with receipts which I even didn’t have to have at the time but I did and presented what I had at that time and there’s never been a suggestion by anyone that there anything wrong or any impropriety in relation to that”
Desmond: “What about the meeting mentioned in The Mahon Tribunal.”
Martin: “I never had a meeting with Bertie and Owen O’Callaghan.”
Desmond: “It’s all there recorded in his diary.”
Martin: “But it wasn’t you see even the tribunal itself didn’t seem to be going into (pause) I don’t want to be going into this because it’s based on the report (pause) didn’t seem to be too clear about it (pause, dry mouth) never any indication in advance that that was going to be raised (pause) I certainly didn’t…(trails off)”
Watch the full interview here