Flynn ‘wrongly and corruptly’ sought £50,000 donation - Mahon Tribunal
The long-awaited report from Mahon Tribunal, which was published this morning (Thursday), has found that former Mayo TD and EU Commissioner, Pádraig Flynn ‘wrongly and corruptly’ sought a donation of IR£50,000 from Tom Gilmartin for the Fianna Fáil party and subsequently used the money for his personal benefit.
The tribunal found that Pádraig Flynn requested that businessman and developer Tom Gilmartin make a substantial donation to Fianna Fáil, probably at a meeting in April 1989. It found the request was made on the understanding that steps would be taken by Flynn to ease and remove obstacles and difficulties being faced by Gilmartin in relation to the development of a major shopping centre in west Dublin, now known as Liffey Valley (it was known as Quarryvale in the late 1980s).
The report states that Mr Flynn proceeded to ‘utilise the money for his personal benefit’ and the tribunal was satisfied that the £50,000 funded at least a significant portion of the purchase of a farm in Cloonanass, Co Mayo, in the name of Padraig Flynn’s wife, Dorothy, and was not used, except minimally, for political expenditure associated with Mr Flynn.
His daughter and former Fianna Fáil TD Beverly Flynn, earlier told RTÉ News that her father is making no comment on the findings of the tribunal report.
Regarding Fianna Fáil, the tribunal states that the concept of senior government figures and ministers seeking financial contributions from businessmen who were in turn lobbying government to support various commercial projects was entirely inappropriate, and represented ‘an abuse of political power and government authority’.
Current Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary said he was ‘disappointed’ and ‘betrayed’ by the content of the report, but he declined to comment on specific findings. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said senior party members would meet tonight to consider the findings before Fianna Fáil issued a full response.
The Mahon Tribunal is the State’s longest-running corruption inquiry. It was established by the Bertie Ahern government in 1997, and is estimated to have cost over €250 million. The inquiry was originally sparked by cash for votes accusations in Dublin councils in the early 1990s which spread to include well known members of Fianna Fáil.
Allegations centred on the bribing of councillors for the re-zoning of large swathes of land around the capital, from low-value greenfield to lucrative commercial or residential sites. Its initial remit was to inquire into the planning history and ownership of 726 acres of land in north Dublin and to investigate any payments to politicians or officials in connection with its rezoning.
However, the tribunal’s terms of reference were soon expanded to allow for the investigation of all suspect payments to politicians and local authority officials in connection with the re-zonings in Dublin.
During former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s evidence to the tribunal in 2008, he denied taking payment for a political favour. The tribunal rejected much of the sworn evidence given to it by Mr Ahern and said that he failed to ‘truthfully account’ for the source of lodgements made to his bank account. It stopped short of calling him corrupt.
The report is to be sent to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Revenue Commissioners.
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