A Fianna Fáil senator who accompanied Bertie Ahern to a dinner with Manchester businessmen in 1994 has told the Mahon Tribunal that he did not see any collection taking place.

But Senator Tony Kett testified that Bertie Ahern, who was then Minister for Finance, told him afterwards about his surprise at receiving a donation.

Senator Kett denied that his recollection of that night in the Four Seasons Hotel in 1994 is at odds with the evidence of the Taoiseach.

Senator Kett said Mr Ahern spoke for about 20 minutes at the dinner, which he described as an official function, and held a question and answer session afterwards.

Des O'Neill SC for the inquiry pointed out that Mr Ahern stated in evidence that it was an informal gathering in the restaurant area and that there was no speech.

Mr Kett replied that the dinner was an official function in the context of the weekend, which had involved a group of friends travelling over for a Manchester United football match.

Mr Kett said Mr Ahern was talking to the businessmen at the table and saw no difference in Mr Ahern's account.

He said it could have been on the plane home that Mr Ahern told him he had received a donation and a few days later mentioned that it was around £8,000 sterling.

Mr Kett said the issue did not worry him one or another.

Earlier at the tribunal, a publican who organised a second whip around for Mr Ahern has said he did not know about another goodwill loan.

Dermot Carew said the £16,500 cash he raised was to help Mr Ahern to buy a house.

Mr Carew told the Mahon Tribunal he never asked Mr Ahern if he wanted the money, but knew he was trying to buy a house.

He said he handed Mr Ahern the £16,500 in a folder at his pub, saying it was a few pounds from the boys for a deposit.

Mr Carew said Mr Ahern was amazed and only accepted it on condition it he would pay it back and put it on a seat under his coat.

He said Mr Ahern never actually offered to pay the money back over subsequent years, but did bring it up on numerous occasions.

Mr Carew said he kept telling him that they would talk about it later.

Lodgement investigated

The Mahon Tribunal is investigating a lodgement of £24,838.49 by Mr Ahern.

It has said previously it does not equate with Mr Ahern's explanation of it being this second goodwill loan plus around Stg£8,000 from Manchester businessmen.

But as the tribunal heard again today, it does correspond to an exchange rate for Stg£25,000.

Mr Carew said he was unaware that Mr Ahern did not purchase a house until 1997.

When Mr Ahern moved into the house on Beresford Avenue he assumed he had bought it.

Answering Des O'Neill SC for the tribunal, Mr Carew said Mr Ahern did not tell him the details of his savings or about the first whip around.

Mr Carew said he knew Mr Ahern was living in 'a pokey little flat' above his constituency office St Lukes, which was damaging for him personally and professionally.

Another donor, Barry English, said although he was not a close friend of Mr Ahern at the time he was happy to give a soft loan of £5,000 to Mr Ahern.

Paddy 'the Plasterer' Reilly said he gave £3,500.

He said he did not know about the first whip around for Mr Ahern although he knew some of the contributors.