Martin was shocked by O’Callaghan sum claims

ENTERPRISE Minister Micheál Martin yesterday described being “shocked, annoyed and outraged” on hearing it alleged on the radio news he had received a six-figure sum from Cork-based property developer Owen O’Callaghan.

This was completely untrue, he told the Mahon Planning Tribunal. He said he had to deal with the political and personal fallout from this public disclosure. He declared himself “absolutely furious” about what had happened.

Mr Martin strongly criticised the way the tribunal investigated “bizarre” allegations of payments made by former developer Tom Gilmartin, now a bitter rival of Mr O’Callaghan, who was his former partner in the Quarryvale project in west Dublin.

Mr Gilmartin had testified that Mr O’Callaghan told him he paid Mr Martin a five-figure sum in the early 1990s when he “was being groomed” to be Taoiseach.

Commenting on Mr O’Callaghan’s alleged remarks about him being groomed for “stardom,” Mr Martin said he was somewhat flattered and amused, considering at the time he was hardly “a wet week in Dáil Éireann and I am being groomed for Taoiseach”.

Originally, Mr Gilmartin had told the tribunal that Mr O’Callaghan told him about paying the then Minister for Industry and Commerce £15,000 or £20,000 in 1991 or 1992.

When asked to clarify this, Mr Gilmartin later stated he was told it was a five-figure sum paid to Mr Martin.

Mr Martin, who never served as Minister for Industry and Commerce, said this letter was crying out for clarification and should have been pursued more vigorously by the tribunal.

First elected to the Dáil in 1989, Mr Martin was Lord Mayor of Cork in 1992. Appointed Minister for Education and Science in 1997, he served as Minister for Health and Children before his present appointment in 2004.

Between 1989 and 1993, he explained, he received a total of £6,200 from Mr O’Callaghan in political donations. He got £5,000 in connection with the 1991 local elections and £1,000 as a political donation relating to the 1989 general election.

At his request, Mr Martin said Mr O’Callaghan contributed £200 to a Fianna Fáil fundraising race night in Cork in connection with the November 1992 general election.

Mr Martin said he had “no recollection” of bringing Mr O’Callaghan to meet Bertie Ahern when he was Minister for Finance in 1994.

An entry in Mr Ahern’s ministerial diary showed a 3.30pm meeting listed for Wednesday, April 13, 1994 with “Eoin O’Callaghan”. On the next line, was written “M. Martin (B)”.

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