Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy and the paper’s public affairs correspondent, Colm Keena, have refused to reveal sources after being summonsed to appear before the Mahon planning tribunal following the paper’s story that disclosed details of the investigation into payments to Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern while he was minister for finance.
Kennedy told reporters after the hearing that had she not gone with the story – the payments might never have come to light and it was in the public interest to print the story.
Both journalists were warned that failing to co-operate with the inquiry could lead to a fine of up to 300,000 euros and/or up to two years’ imprisonment.
The tribunal heard that the information obtained had come from an anonymous, unsolicited leak to Keena. He said that while he meant the tribunal no disrespect, he could not provide answers which could lead to the identification of sources.
He said his article had been based on information from a tribunal letter to a businessman, who was one of 12 found to have made payments totalling over 38,000 euros to Ahern in 1993 and 1994.