FG exonerates Mitchell over Mahon verdict

Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell has been exonerated by a party disciplinary committee over the Mahon Tribunal and declared a member who remained in “high standing”.

No elected member has been kicked out of Fine Gael after a party probe into the claims that several politicians accepted “improper” or “inappropriate” payments in the 1990s.

Fianna Fáil swiftly acted to remove party membership from several representatives after the Mahon Report.

Judge Mahon had investigated four elected women, including Ms Mitchell, who met with Cork developer Owen O’Callaghan and lobbyist Frank Dunlop in the early 1990s.

The “two by four” club met at exclusive restaurants in Dublin and discussed Quarryvale, which Mr O’Callaghan later developed.

Judge Mahon concluded Ms Mitchell received an “inappropriate” £500 payment from Mr Dunlop in 1992, the year she contested an election. It found she had not solicited the donation.

The Fine Gael committee said “it was inappropriate in light of what we now know for the then councillor Mitchell to accept the donation in question” but that her actions had “not brought the party into disrepute”.

However, the party has decided to remove the whip from Cllr Therese Ridge as it was “injudicious and unwise” for her to have accepted £1,000 from Mr Dunlop.

It said: “The committee found that Cllr Ridge’s relationship with Frank Dunlop severely compromised her role as a public representative. Failure to declare an interest and abstention on votes was also wholly inappropriate and damaging to the interests of Fine Gael.”

The party want her to resign within seven days from all committees associated with her role as a councillor or it will pull her party membership.

The South Dublin County Council representative previously told the Irish Examiner that she would “absolutely” not resign on the issue.

A third individual, Cllr Anne Devitt, was cited by Mahon over receiving an “improper” payment but quit the party before committee hearings began.

In a statement, Ms Mitchell said the original opinion of Mahon was “formed with the benefit of hindsight and in the light of information about Mr Dunlop and his activities which was unknown both to me and the general public at that time”.

Ms Ridge could not be contacted last night.


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