herald

Friday 31 October 2014

I was shocked by Creighton's radio blast -- developer

PROPERTY developer Michael O'Flynn told the High Court of his shock when he heard a radio interview two years ago in which Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton referred to him when talking about low standards in public life.

Mr O'Flynn (55) said he had never done anything in his life to bring down standards anywhere and to this day he took exception to the remarks made by now Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton.

He was giving evidence on the first day of his defamation action for damages against the minister arising out of a speech she gave to the MacGill Summer School on July 20, 2010, on the subject of "Standards in Public Life and Accountability".

Condemn

In it she said, among other things, that there can be no room in FG for "cute-hoor politics".

She also said FG in Government must be "much more than Fianna Fail light" and cannot condemn FF for entertaining developers in the Galway Races tent while on the other hand extending the "biscuit tin for contributions from high profile developers who are beholden to NAMA".

Mr O'Flynn says in an interview she gave the same day to RTE Radio's News At One, she then went on to mention the fact that he (O'Flynn) had supported an FG fundraising golf classic a few days earlier in the K Club when he was one of the top 10 indebted developers to NAMA. She made further defamatory comments in an interview a couple of days later with the Irish Times, he claims.

Mr O'Flynn says she caused those defamatory words to be published which meant, among other things, he was not upstanding, that Irish life had been tainted by him, that he was responsible for low standards in public office and that he had received large sums of money from Irish taxpayers through the NAMA process.

Ms Creighton denies the words were defamatory and were statements of an opinion honestly held. She relies on the defence of fair and reasonable publication and denies Mr O'Flynn's reputation has been damaged or that he has been brought into odium, ridicule or contempt as a result.

Mr O'Flynn, a married father of four from Cork, is chairman and managing director of the O'Flynn Group of companies which the court heard, at its height, employed around 1,000 people involved in retail, commercial, industrial and residential development. It now employs around 200, mainly in Ireland, Britain and mainland Europe. When NAMA was set up by the previous Government, some of his companies' loans were transferred to the agency which he said he "had no say over whatsoever".

He co-operated fully with NAMA and was in the final stages of the process, he told his counsel Declan Doyle. All his companies were trading, he said. He was heavily involved in activities outside work, including fundraising for UCC and Crumlin Children's Hospital, he said.

The hearing continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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