A motion of no confidence in Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been defeated by 81 to 76 votes in the Dáil.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny who put in the motion said that Mr Ahern had been wrong to accept large sums of money.

He also said that Mr Ahern had not cooperated fully with the Tribunal and that he had not told the truth to the Irish people.

Mr Kenny said there were three questions that had to be answered. Firstly had Mr Ahern been right to take large sums of money from others, for his personal use. Secondly had Mr Ahern co-operated fully with the Mahon Tribunal and finally had he told the truth.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said the main issue in the debate was that the Taoiseach was not credible and that the sworn evidence he had given to the Mahon Tribunal was not believed. He said Mr Ahern had tried to limit the discovery process at the tribunal and had changed his story.

Mr Gilmore said Mr Ahern had taken money from many people, but public servants should not be under a financial compliment to anyone.

The Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, told the Dáil that if people wanted to avoid arbitrary justice they would let the tribunal proceed with its work.

In a speech before the Dáil began voting on the no confidence motion, Mr Cowen said there had been free elections and a free debate before those elections where the issue of the Taoiseach's finances had been brought into the heart of the debate.

However he said the people had decided that they would allow the tribunal to deal with these matters and they had insisted that Mr Ahern continue as Taoiseach.

Independent TD Finian McGrath told the Dáil that he had confidence in the Mahon Tribunal. He urged the Opposition to have 'fair play' and allow the Tribunal to run its course.

The Dáil returned this afternoon after the summer recess.

Earlier this afternoon, the Taoiseach told the Dáil he had totally and absolutely co-operated with the Mahon Tribunal in every possible way and did not accept that he misled the Dáil.

He was responding to questions from Mr Kenny who asked the Taoiseach if he intended to correct misleading statements he had made in the last 12 months on the issue of his finances.

Mr Kenny said that on 27 September 2006 the Taoiseach had told the Dáil that he had provided all documents requested by the tribunal, sworn affidavits and given statements of evidence and had no difficulty with any of this.

However Mr Kenny said we now know that the Taoiseach did not provide all the information otherwise the Tribunal would not have called him back for private interview or public hearings.

He also questioned Mr Ahern about what he had said in relation to a potential tax liability arising from the loans he received.

The Taoiseach said his advice from two senior and eminent tax consultants was that there was no tax obligations on the money he received on the basis of loans.