Leo Varadkar concerned over harassment claims

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar says he is very “concerned” by allegations of harassment in a row between Fine Gael bosses and ex-TD John Perry.

Mr Varadkar was commenting on media reports that a party councillor was allegedly warned not to give evidence in Mr Perry’s court action against the party.

“I’ve read about the various allegations in relation to the Perry case,” he said. “I’m not involved directly, I don’t know the details, I haven’t seen any of the letters. But obviously I was concerned about any allegation of that nature but I don’t know of the facts.”

Mr Varadkar said that, as it is a party matter rather than a Government one, it is primarily a matter for the executive council of the party to deal with.

It is alleged that senior party personnel essentially warned a party councillor not to testify in the Perry case earlier this year, as it “would look bad for them”.

Mr Perry took the party to the High Court after he failed to secure a convention nomination. He argued that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had promised all sitting TDs would be allowed to contest the election. The party settled the case and allowed Mr Perry to stand. He subsequently lost his seat and the party was landed an estimated legal bill of €500,000.

However, Hubert Keaney, the Sligo councillor at the centre of the row, is still awaiting the party’s response to his allegations.

The Irish Examiner understands Mr Keaney initially wrote to the party to highlight his concerns but was less than satisfied with its responses. He sent a second letter seeking a better explanation from headquarters, has not yet received a response.

Mr Keaney says he was pressurised by Fine Gael’s top official, general secretary Tom Curran, not to give evidence in a case taken against the party.

Mr Varadkar said he has full confidence in Mr Curran in light of the claims.

Mr Keaney, who is mayor of Sligo County Council, wrote to Mr Curran and Fine Gael’s director of elections, Brian Hayes.

Neither Mr Hayes nor Mr Curran answered their phones yesterday and a party spokeswoman had no comment when contacted by the Irish Examiner.


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