Calleary insists party will not shirk responsibility on Flynn issue
Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary says his party will co-operate fully with the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in their investigation into the political donation former Minister Padraig Flynn took from developer Tom Gilmartin.
The focus of the controversy surrounding IR£50,000 given to Mr Flynn by Tom Gilmartin shifted onto Fianna Fáil over the weekend, after it was alleged the CAB investigation had been hampered by the party’s non-reporting of the money as missing.
The Mahon Tribunal heard that Tom Gilmartin gave the former Mayo TD and EU Commissioner a cheque for £50,000 in 1989, which was intended for the Fianna Fáil party. However, the tribunal found that the money was instead used by Flynn to buy a farm in north Mayo for his wife, Dorothy.
It was reported in The Sunday Times over the weekend that the initial examination of the case by CAB has concluded that it will be difficult to prove that Flynn obtained the money by fraud or deception because Fianna Fáil has not made any claim to it.
The party has come under pressure to report the money missing in order to assist the Garda investigation, and former junior Minister Dara Calleary told The Mayo News that they will assist CAB’s investigation. However, he said the party has not been contacted by CAB.
“We haven’t been officially contacted by CAB or the gardaí, but if they have a problem and contact us we will co-operate fully with them. We [Fianna Fáil] have shown since the Mahon findings were released that we have been on top of this with our calls for the findings to be forwarded to the DPP and CAB and with our moves on expulsions. We want this dealt with and we will co-operate with CAB if they contact us,” he said.
The Mahon Tribunal had found that Mr Flynn ‘wrongfully and corruptly sought a substantial donation’ from Tom Gilmartin when he was Minister for the Environment. 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 the Quarryvale (now Liffey Valley) shopping centre in west Dublin.
Mr Flynn rejected the findings of the tribunal, which accepted all of the evidence given by Mr Gilmartin and rejected that given by Mr Flynn when conflicts arose between their respective accounts. The report described Mr Flynn’s explanation of how he handled Mr Gilmartin’s payment, and other sums, as ‘astounding, incredible and untrue’.
Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin has said that the party does not want the money, which has been described as ‘tainted’. Padraig Flynn, who was a TD from 1977 until 1993, recently resigned from Fianna Fáil after the party leadership moved a motion to expel him.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has said that it will not take any action against Padraig Flynn, who served as European Commissioner from 1993 until 1999, unless he is found guilty in a criminal court. Commissioner Maros Sefcovic said that the findings of Mahon ‘do not represent the verdict of a court after due process’.
However, the Commissioner said that any action taken by the Criminal Assets Bureau that results in a prosecution ‘will be an important element to be taken into account’.
The Commission made the statement after Labour MEP, Nessa Childers called for Flynn’s European pension to be withdrawn.
“Pádraig Flynn has disgraced Ireland’s good name in Europe,” MEP Childers said. “He should no longer receive his sizeable pension from the European Commission. He was found to have taken corrupt payments before he was Commissioner, falsified documents while he was a Commissioner and made false statements to the tribunal after he was Commissioner.”
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