Flynn denies receiving a corrupt payment
Former Mayo TD issues statement rejecting the findings of the Mahon Tribunal
Former Mayo TD and EU Commissioner, Padraig Flynn has issued a statement rejecting the findings of the Mahon Tribunal which found he ‘wrongly and corruptly’ sought a IR£50,000 donation from developer Tom Gilmartin.
In a three line statement issued via e-mail to the media this morning (Friday), the former Fianna Fáil minister rejects the findings of the Mahon Tribunal and categorically denies receiving ‘a corrupt payment’.
“During my lifetime of involvement in politics I have never sought nor have I ever received a corrupt payment. I absolutely reject any such finding of this Tribunal in that regard,” he said. He concluded the statements by indicating that ‘It is not my intention to issue any further statement at this time’.
The long-awaited report from Mahon Tribunal, which was published on Thursday, found that Mr 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 when Mr Flynn was the 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 a major shopping centre in west Dublin, now known as Liffey Valley (it was known as Quarryvale in the late 1980s).
“Mr Flynn wrongfully and in the circumstances corruptly sought a donation from Mr Gilmartin for the FF party,” the inquiry concluded.
“Mr Flynn having being paid £50,000 by Mr Gilmartin for the Fianna Fáil party proceeded wrongfully to use the money for his own personal benefit,” it stated.
The report states 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.
The tribunal 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’.
The report also concluded that the £50,000 was lodged by Mr Flynn and his wife Dorothy into an account in Chiswick, London which designated them as non-resident. In all the couple, held three non-resident accounts with lodgements totalling £155,278.
“None of the lodgements appeared to relate to the salary or income of Mr Flynn,” it said.
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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