Bookmaker donated £5,000 after Cork dinner

FORMER Cork bookmaker Joe Donnelly told the Mahon Planning Tribunal yesterday he attended a private dinner in the company of former taoiseach Albert Reynolds on March 11, 1994.

“I have known Mr Reynolds for many, many years,” said Mr Donnelly. “I was a bookmaker and he used to bet.”

He was invited by accountant Niall Welch, who told him it was a fundraising dinner at his home for Fianna Fáil. At that stage Mr Welch was his accountant.

Asked by tribunal lawyer Patricia Dillon if he was a supporter of FF, he replied: “Not really — I was a supporter of no party.”

Mr Donnelly said after the dinner, as he was leaving, he asked Mr Welch what should he give and Mr Welch said £5,000.

On March 28, 1994, Mr Donnelly wrote a personal cheque made out to FF but he could not remember to whom he sent it.

Asked if he got a receipt, he said he got a letter: “It said, Dear John — and my name is Joe — and it was signed by Bertie Ahern.”

Mr Donnelly said he saw no envelopes on the table and no cash being handed over.

Businessman Michael O’Flynn of O’Flynn Construction, another guest at the Welch dinner party, told the tribunal he made no donation on the night of the dinner or subsequently. He agreed he knew it was a fundraising event as well as being a private dinner.

He said he had been a supporter of events; he would have supported FF and other parties and agreed he would have contributed to FF fundraising events before the dinner and since.

Asked if he had seen envelopes on the night, Mr O’Flynn said he had absolutely no recollection of envelopes “anywhere on the night”.

The tribunal is investigating an allegation by businessman Tom Gilmartin that Cork-based developer Owen O’Callaghan told him he gave Mr Reynolds £150,000 in a bedroom following a private dinner in Cork shortly before St Patrick’s Day in 1994.

Both Mr O’Callaghan and Mr Reynolds deny the allegation.

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