Fine Gael has described as 'bizarre' the Taoiseach's contact with AIB official Jim McNamara earlier this year.

It emerged at the Mahon Tribunal today that Bertie Ahern contacted Mr McNamara, who had been assigned by the bank to gather information for the tribunal.

Fine Gael frontbench spokesperson Fergus O'Dowd said the contact with a potential witness was 'bizarre' in the context of Mr Ahern's consistent claims to have fully co-operated with the tribunal.

'In light of these claims, it is remarkable that such an enquiry was made by the Taoiseach in recent months,' he added.

Mr O'Dowd questioned whether it was not 'peculiar in the extreme' that the Taoiseach, and not his legal team, made contact with the bank.

However, tonight a spokesperson for the Taoiseach responded to today's evidence stating it was 'extraordinary' to suggest Mr Ahern could not talk to his own bank seeking clarification on existing records related to his own financial affairs.

The spokesperson said: 'As a customer of the bank, the Taoiseach is perfectly entitled to seek documentation from AIB in order to assist him in preparing his responses to ongoing queries from the tribunal.

'The lodgements that the Taoiseach have sought details of took place approximately 12 or 13 years ago.

'The Taoiseach cannot be expected to have access to all records and details pertaining to transactions from this period at such a remove of time. It is extraordinary to suggest that the Taoiseach cannot talk to his own bank official to seek clarification on existing records relating to his own financial affairs.'

At today's sitting of the tribunal, Mr McNamara said Mr Ahern did not want find himself being questioned about documents that were new to him.

Under questioning by tribunal counsel, Mr McNamara agreed that looking back it was a most unusual inquiry by Mr Ahern.

Mr McNamara said he told both the Taoiseach and the tribunal that the bank had no conclusive proof that the lodgements involved foreign exchange.

Meanwhile, the tribunal has agreed to postpone the appearance of Celia Larkin before the inquiry until September.

Yesterday, the tribunal put off the appearances of Mr Ahern and Manchester businessman Micheál Wall until after the summer break.

A backlog of witnesses has arisen because of the length of time it has taken to hear evidence from a number of AIB witnesses.

Gilmartin denies Flynn payment was bribe

Earlier at the tribunal, former developer Tom Gilmartin said he gave then Minister Padraig Flynn a £50,000 cheque in relation to the Quarryvale development.

Mr Gilmartin, who is being cross-examined by counsel for rival developer Owen O'Callaghan, denies that the payment in 1989 was a bribe.

Tom Gilmartin admits that he left the payee blank on the cheque he gave to then Environment Minister Pádraig Flynn and did not get a receipt.

Under cross-examination by Paul Sreenan SC for Owen O'Callaghan, Mr Gilmartin said he had previously given cheques to Liam Lawlor, which he regarded as improper payments.

But Mr Gilmartin said he did this on instructions from his then British partners Arlington after Mr Lawlor gatecrashed a meeting and demanded money on behalf of the Government.

]Mr Gilmartin also admitted that in considering how much to give Mr Flynn for Fianna Fáil, he linked it to amounts that had been demanded from him in bribes.

But he said the £50,000 payment was a legal political donation to Mr Flynn who was treasurer of Fianna Fáil at the time.

Mr Gilmartin said he did this to stop the games that were being played by Mr Lawlor and then local government official George Redmond.

He said they were thwarting his plans for Quarryvale because he would not pay them bribes.

Mr Gilmartin denied the money was to ensure tax designation from Mr Flynn who was the Minister for the Environment and said that decision was up to the Department of Finance.

He said the least he could have expected that the government would control what was going on not be soldiers of fortune but soldiers of destiny.

Mr Gilmartin said he got no favours from the payment but rather, he said, 'I got myself bankrupt, I got myself destroyed'.