On the streets
‘Hurt, betrayal and disillusionment’ were just some of the emotions in Castlebar on Friday afternoon just one day after the publication of the Mahon Tribunal as shoppers digested the news that former minister and EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn was labelled as ‘corrupt’ by the tribunal. The atmosphere in Castlebar towards the findings was akin to confirmation that a runaway train had come to a thunderous stop. Shocked, yes, surprised no.
Mr Flynn has staunchly rejected the findings that he corruptly accepted a payment of £50,000 from developer Tom Gilmartin, but how will this damning report affect his lasting legacy in Castlebar?
Mr Flynn has of course previously been acclaimed for some notable achievements in his own constituency. One middle-aged woman from Castlebar said, “Padraig Flynn would be very popular here in Castlebar. He brought us things years ago that we never had, and we wouldn’t have got it only for him.”
Flynn earned a lot of credit for the N5 road development from Swinford to Castlebar which he opened when he was Minister for the Environment in 1991, and no doubt this will be remembered. However, the past tense in which some people referred to Pádraig (Pee) Flynn was interesting, and the tone seemed almost reminiscent of an obituary.
One staunch former Fianna Fáil man who lives a few miles outside Castlebar said, “People are very hurt yes. As I say I knew the man personally and I was very disappointed, but I always had the opinion that there was something going on.”
He continued, “It’s a pity this happened to the party, we were staunch Fianna Fáilers ourselves and we didn’t vote Fianna Fáil the last time, and that was the first time I ever went outside Fianna Fáil except for maybe Mary Robinson in the presidential election. I think Albert [Reynolds] should have intervened in Pádraig’s situation and he didn’t.”
However despite the damning findings the disillusioned man said that N5 road in to Castlebar will always be a testament to Pádraig Flynn. He concluded, “I just wish it didn’t happen and even after the [Mahon Tribunal] began I still voted for Beverley. I’d have to say it’s a pity she got entwined in it and it’s a pity to see the Flynn name being damaged.”
A Tourmakeady shopper was less sympathetic but he too acknowledged it was a shame that the reputation of Pádraig Flynn seems to have been tarnished in such a public fashion. He said, “It’s a pity really because he did a lot of good work, but he will be remembered now for this. People will forget about the good work. It’s like a footballer, he’ll be remembered for his last game, and the last game was not good. That’d be my view.”
Another Castlebar woman I spoke with agreed with the opinion that his reputation is ruined. She said, “I certainly do. I mean fraud is fraud at the end of the day. I mean IR£50,000 was an awful lot of money. You’d buy two houses back then with that and he took it. And I’d also feel very sorry for that Gilmartin man because I think he was shafted really.”
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