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Gallagher reeling after €5k cheque revelations

A CONVICTED fuel smuggler and an envelope with a €5,000 cheque may have sunk Sean Gallagher's presidential bid.

With just 48 hours before the election Mr Gallagher is reeling after he was humiliated live on RTE over his connections to criminal Hugh Morgan.

The fuel smuggler was today on the verge of destroying Sean Gallagher's presidential dreams.

Mr Gallagher was left shell-shocked last night when his Sinn Fein rival Martin McGuinness claimed Mr Morgan has potentially damaging information on Mr Gallagher's Fianna Fail connections.

During the final televised presidential debate, the ex-IRA godfather alleged that Mr Gallagher accepted a €5,000 "brown envelope" from Mr Morgan in 2008.

The claim comes just two days before the election, in which the former Dragon's Den star was widely expected to pick up the keys for the Aras.

Smuggling

Mr McGuinness claimed that he had a phone conversation by Mr Morgan last night -- during which he was told Mr Gallagher had called to his Louth home and collected the cheque.

Morgan pleaded guilty to fuel smuggling and tax evasion at a Belfast court in 1998.

He was handed down an 18-month suspended jail sentence and forced to pay £500,000 (¤570,000) in excise duties and VAT charges.

Although initially denying the allegation, Mr Gallagher seemingly performed a U-turn during the debate, admitting: "I may well have delivered a photograph. If he gave me a cheque, it was made out to Fianna Fail headquarters."

However, a spokesperson for Mr Gallagher today launched a broadside attack on Sinn Fein, accusing the party of "smear tactics".

He insisted that Mr Gallagher "had no memory" of the allegation -- which was first put to him by a Sunday journalist at the weekend.

"Sean has absolutely no memory of calling to this man's home. He has no connections with Hugh Morgan.

"This is coming from a party that has caused murder and mayhem right across the Island. It is typical Sinn Fein smear tactics attempting to sabotage Sean's campaign.

"We were contacted about the allegation at the weekend by at least one journalist and it is the first we heard of it.

"Sinn Fein are throwing all these type of allegations out about Sean.

"Sean has never made any personal donations and to his memory did not receive this so-called brown envelope."

A spokesperson for Sinn Fein refused to comment when contacted by the Herald today, but said that Mr McGuinness would be speaking outside Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital in Dundalk later today.

When quizzed by the Herald about the allegations last night, Mr McGuinness accused Mr Gallagher of accepting the cheque.

"I spoke to a gentleman on the telephone before the programme I didn't know anything about him.

"I was only interested in the fact I was told he wanted to speak to me because he was angry, because he was angry at Sean Gallagher.

"He made it clear to me that he attended, at Sean Gallagher's request, a meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk, when there were 35 other people who were builders and developers, and Sean Gallagher was the one that invited him.

"Sean Gallagher was the one who invited him, and that later Sean Gallagher travelled to his house, and he gave him a cheque for €5,000.

"I don't know if the envelope was white or brown, but it's the brown envelope culture that destroyed the Irish people's economy, over the course of many years, and what we saw during the course of the programme was a very clear admission, a very clear admission by Sean Gallagher that what I had said was true."