'Late Late Show' appearance beginning of the end for Flynn

A notorious appearance on 'The Late Late Show' was the beginning of the end for Padraig Flynn.

A notorious appearance on 'The Late Late Show' was the beginning of the end for Padraig Flynn.

The former Government Minister and European Commissioner went on prime time national television to dispute allegations that he had accepted a bribe from a developer.

Some 13 years later, his words have come back to haunt him.

"I never asked or took money from anybody to do favours for anybody in my life," he defiantly told viewers in 1999.

"I never took money from anybody to do a political favour as far as planning is concerned."

The Mahon Tribunal found the Fianna Fáil veteran had "wrongly and corruptly" sought a IR£50,000 payment from Tom Gilmartin in 1994 - used to buy a farm in Co Mayo in his wife Dorothy's name.

On one hand, boasting about his IR£100,000 salary and the stress of running three homes in Castlebar, Brussels and Dublin, Mr Flynn even told host Gay Byrne that Mr Gilmartin was a troubled man and that he and his wife were not well.

The infamous interview prompted the developer to blow the whistle and take the stand, which finally took Mr Flynn down.

The tribunal also found Gilmartin had told Bertie Ahern about the payment in June 1989, and that former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds knew about it in February 1992 as he selected his new Cabinet.

Party fundraisers and organisers were also aware.

None contacted Mr Flynn about the payment, the tribunal has found.

Mr Flynn was elected to the Irish parliament in 1977 and over the next 16 years held several ministerial positions. He served as European Commissioner from 1993 until 1999.

In its ruling, the tribunal said it was satisfied Mr Flynn requested Gilmartin to make a substantial donation to Fianna Fail in April 1989, and in return the then environment minister would ease or remove obstacles and difficulties over lands at Quarryvale where he wanted to build a shopping centre.

It found he paid it under duress or coercion and that Mr Flynn proceeded wrongfully and corruptly sought the payment.

His high-profile reputation is just one of several destroyed by the huge investigation - not to mention the political carnage Mr Ahern's former cabinet colleagues are left to clean up.

The late Liam Lawlor - who died in a car crash in Moscow in 2005 - accepted substantial sums from landowners and developers in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. He was said to be hopelessly compromised in the disinterested performance of his public duties.

The report said he abused his role as an elected public representative, both as a councillor until 1991 and as a TD until 2002, giving advice for his personal gain.

Among the figures uncovered was IR£75,000 from Arlington Plc over an 11-month period in 1988/89, which it found was "entirely inappropriate and corrupt", and him seeking a 20% stake in Quarryvale on two occasions.

"Mr Lawlor, while an elected public representative, conducted a personal business in the course of which he corruptly sold his expertise, knowledge and influence as a councillor and as a TD for personal financial reward," it added.

Elsewhere, the tribunal found developer Owen O'Callaghan paid £1.8m to lobbyist and former government press secretary Frank Dunlop over 10 years.

Dunlop, former minister Ray Burke and former assistant Dublin city and county manager George Redmond have already been jailed for either arranging or accepting payments, while Lawlor was jailed for non co-operation with the tribunal.

The tribunal said payments totalling IR£10,000 to former Fianna Fáil TD GV Wright that went through Dunlop were improper and made under the guise of political donations, and that he also received a IR£5,000 "corrupt" payment from Christopher Jones.

Other councillors named and shamed over payments include Fianna Fail's Finbarr Hanrahan and Cyril Gallagher, Fine Gael's Tom Hand, Labour's John O'Halloran and Independent Pat Dunne. Five others cannot be named because they are before the courts.

Meanwhile, criminal charges against four former Fianna Fáil politicians and a Gibraltar-based businessman are currently going through the courts in connection with the cash-for-votes scandal which led to more than 100 acres of prime land in south county Dublin being rezoned in the 1990s.

The charges followed a marathon investigation into the €53m hike in land prices at Carrickmines.

The lands were frozen by the Criminal Assets Bureau in 2005.

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