Martin: ‘No impropriety’ in donations from developer

FIANNA FÁIL leader Micheál Martin has insisted he has no questions to answer over political donations he received from property developer Owen O’Callaghan in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“There never has been any suggestion of any impropriety or any issues surrounding the donations,” he told reporters at a press conference yesterday.

He dismissed recent coverage of the donations as an “attempt to muddy the waters,” and insisted he had given a full and frank account of the monies involved to the Planning Tribunal.

“I can say categorically that there is no question in relation to my integrity or in terms of the funding of any of my political campaigns — I can say that without equivocation,” Mr Martin added.

“And there never has been, by the way, any suggestion to that effect from anybody, and I just provided information (to the tribunal) like many others did as requested.”

The tribunal has spent more than a decade investigating corruption in the planning process and payments to politicians. Mr Martin became embroiled in the tribunal’s hearings around 2004, when the inquiry wrote to him seeking information.

In response, he provided a lengthy statement explaining that between 1989 and 1993 he had received political donations totalling £6,200 from Mr O’Callaghan.

One of these donations was £5,000, a portion of which was “cashed and applied for political expenditure” and the remainder — some £3,500 — lodged to Mr Martin’s wife Mary’s AIB account in Dublin in July 1991.

Later that same month, €2,550 was withdrawn from this account. Mr Martin told the tribunal in his statement: “I believe (it) was applied for political expenditure at that time.”

Mr Martin also outlined in his tribunal statement that Mr O’Callaghan had contributed a separate £5,000 payment to a civic project, the dredging of Cork’s Atlantic Pond, when Mr Martin was Lord Mayor of the city and patron of the project in 1993.

Mr Martin stressed that this £5,000 payment had not been made to him and was lodged by the voluntary committee established to oversee the project to a dedicated account in a Cork branch of AIB.

Asked about the specifics of the donations yesterday, Mr Martin reiterated that the Atlantic Pond contribution had not been a donation to him and that it had been lodged to a separate account that had “nothing to do with me”.

He said there was “no big deal” about the portion of the political donation lodged to his wife’s account “because if you look at the documentary evidence which we produced (to the tribunal), it was spent very quickly within the month on political expenditure”.

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