Saturday 24 March 2018

Pressure grows on Mitchell over £500 Dunlop donation

FINE Gael TD Olivia Mitchell has said she is disgusted with the Mahon Tribunal report that found she received an "inappropriate" donation from lobbyist Frank Dunlop.

Pressure was mounting on Ms Mitchell today after another Fine Gael councillor who was criticised in the report decided to resign from the party.

The party's disciplinary committee is set to meet to decide what, if any, action is to be taken against the TD.

But she remained defiant telling the Herald: "If that was inappropriate then so was every election donation that anybody got, that's the way I look at it."

"I was really disgusted," she added when asked about her feelings on the Mahon Report in relation to a donation of £500 she was found to have received from the lobbyist, who has since served a prison sentence for corruption.

"I knew my own personal circumstances therefore I didn't feel it was inappropriate," the deputy said.

"If I thought it was, I wouldn't have accepted it, and if I knew then what I know now I certainly wouldn't have accepted it."

However despite believing that the Mahon Report got it wrong on her, she said that Bertie Ahern's "stories were just so incredible that you couldn't believe them".

"No matter what the truth of the matter was, you couldn't believe what he was saying."

Ms Mitchell gave evidence to the Mahon Tribunal that she did receive money from Dunlop in 1992, but said the donation was for her election campaign and was initiated by him.

She also told the tribunal she had a short meeting with Dunlop but that the Quarryvale development he had been lobbying for was not mentioned.


The Quarryvale site was rezoned and the Liffey Valley shopping centre was built on it.

Last week, the tribunal report found Ms Mitchell's acceptance of the £500 from Dunlop while she was a councillor at the time of the 1992 General Election was "inappropriate".

It also reported that Ms Mitchell had meetings with Dunlop and Quarryvale developer Owen O'Callaghan in relation to the Quarryvale project, and was a supporter of the project.

"While the evidence would suggest Cllr Mitchell did not solicit the contribution, she nonetheless accepted it in the knowledge of Mr Dunlop's close association with the project," the report found.

Ms Mitchell today told the Herald she was a supporter of the Quarryvale project, but she stressed that the project was not mentioned when the donation was made to her campaign.

"I voted for some of his proposals, I voted against others, but in the heat of the election he rang me up and said he'd like to give me a contribution, and at that stage I was quite friendly with him and I was delighted to be honest, and the furthest thing from my mind was any of his clients."

Asked if she would have discussed Quarryvale with Dunlop before the donation came about, she replied: "Yeah, and others."

In a brief statement today, Fine Gael confirmed that Cllr Anne Devitt had left the party.

"She had been due to appear before the Party's Disciplinary Committee," the statement noted.


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