A former managing director of NCB stockbrokers has described as 'offensive' a claim that a £5,000 donation was made indirectly because it was a personal payment to Bertie Ahern.

Mr O'Connor admits that NCB used a bogus invoice to process the payment in 1993 but insisted today it was a political donation.

Mr O'Connor contradicted evidence from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former Fianna Fáil fundraiser Des Richardson about the payment.

He said he failed to understand how he could have been put on a list of personal friends of Mr Ahern that would be asked to help out with a legal bill from his marital separation.

Mr O'Connor said he would have regarded this as an extraordinary request and it never happened.

Under cross-examination by James O'Callaghan BL for Mr Richardson, Mr O'Connor said he had a friendly professional relationship with Mr Ahern but was not a friend of his.

Mr O'Callaghan pointed out the NCB had later openly supported fundraising for Mr Ahern's cumann by writing cheques.

He put it to Mr O'Connor that the decision to pay the money through a false invoice from the company Euro Workforce showed it was meant as a personal donation.

Mr O'Connor said that was nonsense and offensive.

He said NCB decided to treat the request for £5,000 with discretion because it was an unusual approach by Mr Richardson and they had never before made a political donation.


Meanwhile, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has said the evidence of  Mr O'Connor completely contradicts the version offered by the Taoiseach on a £5,000 payment from Mr O'Connor.

Speaking in Cork, Enda Kenny said the explanation given by Bertie Ahern and the evidence of Mr O'Connor were 'polar opposites.'

Mr Kenny said Mr O'Connor's evidence clearly demolishes another explanation given by Bertie Ahern in his own defence.

He said a labyrinth of explanations was constructed to defend the movement of 'serious' amounts of money into accounts that were related either to the Taoiseach or the Fianna Fáil party. He also alleged that there were 'unorthodox methods' used to handle the money.