23rd Oct 2016

Former Irish commissioner guilty of corruption

  • (Photo: snorski)

Ireland's former EU commissioner Padraig Flynn is guilty of taking bribes during his time as an environment minister, a 15-year-long investigation into the Bertie Ahern government concluded on Thursday (22 March).

The 3,200-page fact-finding study led by judge Alan Mahon said corruption was "endemic and systemic" at every level of government in Ireland in the late 1990s when Ahern was prime minister.

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It found that Ahern lied about bank deposits and party donations, which led to his resignation in May 2008, but fell short of accusing him of corruption because the panel of three judges could not prove he gave favours to any of his cash donors.

This was not the case with Flynn, from Ahern's Fianna Fail party, however.

Flynn was a minister between 1987-1993 before switching over to the EU commission. The report found he had acted "wrongfully and corruptly" in 1989 during his term as an environment minister when he accepted a 50,000 Irish pound 'donation' from property developer Tom Gilmartin which he used to purchase a farm in the west of Ireland.

"Mr Flynn having being paid £50,000 by Mr Gilmartin for the Fianna Fail party proceeded wrongfully to use the money for his own personal benefit," the report says.

The judges also found Flynn's explanations of how he dealt with the donation "astounding, incredible and untrue."

Gilmartin had complained about the money being siphoned off to Flynn's private pocket, but Fianna Fail officials decided not to pursue the matter. Then then prime minister Albert Reynolds was also informed, but he told the tribunal he had no recollection of it.

The real estate developer testified that he gave Flynn the donation "to ease or remove obstacles" related to one of his construction projects. He admitted that the payment was "misconceived and entirely inappropriate."

The report is being sent to state prosecutors, but criminal evidence will be hard to track down after two decades and some of the accusations will be affected by statute of limitations.

Fianna Fail, meanwhile, is considering expelling Ahern from its ranks.

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