Former Mayo TD leaves Fianna Fáil party
Anton McNulty and Edwin McGreal
FORMER Mayo TD and EU Commissioner, Padraig Flynn, has resigned from the Fianna Fáil party following the release of the Mahon Tribunal report which found he ‘wrongly and corruptly’ sought a IR£50,000 donation from developer Tom Gilmartin.
Fianna Fáil headquarters confirmed yesterday afternoon (Monday) that they received a letter of resignation submitted by Mr Flynn just a few days before he was faced expulsion from the party.
The resignation of the former Minister for the Environment and EU Comissioner came just a day after the resignation of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who also faced expulsion next Friday. A special meeting of the party’s national executive scheduled had planned to expel Mr Flynn and three former councillors and this meeting is to still go ahead.
Speaking to The Mayo News following the resignation of Mr Flynn, current Fianna Fáil TD, Dara Calleary said the decision to recommend the expulsion of Mr Flynn ‘had to be taken’ to restore the integrity of public office in Ireland. He said certain members of the party had ‘lost the run of themselves’ and the findings of the Mahon Tribunal had ‘sickened’ him.
“This is a dark time for the party and when you read the whole report it is stark and shocking and there is a sense this should never happen again. That is why it was proposed that we go to the National Executive with six expulsions. It had to be taken and geography and location had to be taken out of it.
“We had to look at the overall interest of the country and restore the integrity of public life. We are determined to deal with the report because when you read through it, it sickens you and we must make sure this does not happen again,” he said.
Deputy Calleary said that Fianna Fáil would ensure that the recommendations of the report are implemented and it is not ‘swept under the carpet’. He said the party has called for a complete ban on corporate donations and for the Standards in Public Office (SIPO) to have better resources.
The findings of the Mahon Tribunal and the recommendation by Fianna Fáil to expel him from the party was met with differing opinions in the county. Castlebar-based Fianna Fáil vice president Lisa Chambers told The Mayo News that she intended to support the motion against Mr Flynn at the party’s Ard Comhairle meeting on Friday saying his actions were ‘unbecoming of a public representative’.
“If you are a public representative you do so to serve the public and never use it to benefit yourself. It is not just a job and if you do something unbecoming of a public representative you should be held accountable,” she said.
Sitting councillors Annie May Reape and Damien Ryan said that the legacy of Mr Flynn should not be forgotten despite what the report finds.
“I acknowledge the huge amount of work, development and delivery he has brought to Mayo ” said Cllr Ryan.
While saying he accepted the findings of the tribunal and could not condone what it reported, Cllr Ryan said there were questions that needed to be answered regarding the cost of the tribunal and asked ‘if the matters were so serious’ why they were not referred to the DPP when they first emerged.
Two Mayo county councillors believe the Mahon Tribunal findings prove ‘what the dogs in the street know’, that corruption is ‘endemic’ in Irish politics.
Ballina-based Cllr Gerry Ginty and Castlebar-based Cllr Frank Durcan disagree on the merits of spending €300m and fifteen years to reach such findings but both feel it underlines a view they’ve each long held.
“I’m not in the least bit surprised. It has been my belief for years and years that this is going on at different levels. The only thing that surprises me from Mahon is that only a few people have been brought to heel. The dogs in the street knew what was going on,” said Cllr Ginty.
“[Corruption] is endemic and systemic with regard to the planning system in this country. The 1963 Planning Act brought more corruption to Ireland than any mafia in the world. There is no one you can go to with a complaint. The Gardaí are not qualified, a lot of reporters are afraid to run such stories. If you bring up a complaint in the Dáil about a local authority, they will tell you to go to the local authority,” said Cllr Durcan.
“In terms of the cost a lot of forensic work had to be done, it was very complicated and it shows how much work had to be done to get where they did. It was frustrated on many occasions by politicians telling lies. Liam Lawlor was sent to jail to consider his evidence,” added Cllr Durcan.
However Cllr Ginty argued that the powers should be there to deal with such matters in a swifter fashion.
“€300m was used to fund these tribunals, what the need for that was I don’t know. In any other country, if the law is broken, the police deal with it. Enda Kenny, when he is in China, should ask the Minister of Justice there what happens to corrupt politicians. They jail them in the USA, it is slightly more severe in China!,” said Cllr Ginty.
Cllr Durcan added that the reputation of his long-time political rival Padraig Flynn has been tarnished because of the tribunal.
“It is sad to see any man so foolish as to allow himself to drift away like that. He had a brilliant future ahead of himself in politics if he behaved properly but he has left an awful legacy because of his actions,” said Cllr Durcan.
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