Fine Gael and O'Flynn

The defence used by The Very Different Party to Fianna Fáil for tapping up a Nama 10 developer for donations is not inspiring.

The main opposition party has long criticised Fianna Fail’s record of raising money from property tycoons, citing a “cosy relationship” between the government party and developers.

Mr O’Flynn is company chairman and managing director of Cork-based O’Flynn Construction, which recently transferred debts approaching €1bn to the National Asset Management Agency.

The party’s finance spokesman Michael Noonan last night said the exclusive fundraiser at the K Club last week was above board, but would not comment further.

“Our fundraising is in compliance with the rules,” he told the Irish Independent.

Mr O’Flynn ‘sponsored’ the 18th hole for the fundraiser for an undisclosed sum. If done through his company the figure will need to be published in the annual accounts. Fine Gael will only have to disclose a figure if the profit from the sponsorship is above the ridiculously high declaration limit of €5037. However, they’ll not be required to provide documentary proof that the gross income minus the expenses for the day resulted in individual or collective breaches or non-breaches of the declarations. Of course, this all means that there will, almost guaranteed, be no breaches of the declaration limit on the day. Thus the undisclosed sum will likely remain undisclosed.

Hell, political parties aren’t even required to publish accounts, despite SIPO and the Council of Europe Group Against Corruption saying it should be a basic standard for more than a decade. So we’ll no little about what sums passed between the party and those in attendance on the day.

In recent years the opposition has taken the moral high ground on ‘legal corruption’ and accountability issues, citing the Galway tent consistently as an example of how Fianna Fáil has been ethically compromised. Yet they rarely if ever attempt to hold themselves above the standard of the “board”.

The SIPO rules were written and implemented under Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael and Labour say they need to be reformed; what’s stopping Labour and Fine Gael from holding themselves to the standards now that they wish to implemented if they get into power? Why not take the initiative and publish accounts, expenses and all donations above a lower minimum limit, as an excercise in transparency?

Politics over democracy, innit?

The Greens have their own standards for accepting donations. Praise deserved. Pity they don’t see fit to publish donations below the minimum declaration limits. All parties accept that the lower limits are too high, as far as I know. So what’s the problem?…

On that topic, I’m still waiting to see the transparency-related reforms detailed in the programme for government. Any news on that lobbyists’ register, Minister Gormley?

8 thoughts on “Fine Gael and O'Flynn”

  1. We may be crying out for a change of government but when we see the supposed main alternative party at work it is enough to make you wake up at night in cold sweats. Does anyone really think that we will get more transparency, less cronyism, more original thinking or any real difference from FG? Their propensity for the own goal is second to none.

  2. As part of the New Politics document, FG have committed to publish their annual audited accounts on the web from this year on.

    With regard to donations, FG in 2001 banned all corporate donations. They went on then to fight a campaign in 2002 marked by amateurism and an inability to get their message across to the same extent as their main competition and got crucified by the electorate.

    Unilateral action by one competitor to put themselves at a competitive disadvantage, has not worked for FG in the past. As such, I don’t see why they would do it again.

  3. I am disappointed to hear that Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny (self styled Taoiseach in waiting) did not have better judgement and for my money (the little I still have left ) I will bet that he most certainly will not be the next Taoiseach.
    Nor does he deserve to be! with such display of total disconnect from the general public!
    Displaying this total detachment for the feelings of the ordinary people who are struggling to pay their continuously rising household bills and green party new taxes
    Enda Kenny has made a major miscalculation here; prancing around the K-Club the taxpayers of this country will not forgive this making out with the golden circle boys from Anglo Irish Bank !
    The last thing this so called Taoiseach in waiting needed was to be photographed with members of the golden Anglo Irish circle
    How can anybody now believe that this man or his party will make the developers pay their debts to Anglo Irish Bank, now owned by the hard pressed taxpayers of this country?
    Mr. Kenny I predict you will not be the next Taoiseach of this country and you might not even be in the Dail after the next general election
    What a shame too!
    The perception now of the ordinary people of Ireland is that Fine Gael has little or no difference in policies with Fianna Fail, with regards to NAMA or the Developers who ripped off all those now and for the foreseeable future will wallow in negative equity.
    Enda Kenny’s golf outing at the K-Club has only encouraged the belief he is just as chummy as Lenihan and Cowen with the brazen developers and bankers who have destroyed our country and have made us servants of the international bond pushers
    What dimwit is advising this man?

  4. @ Eoin Mac

    Fine Gael no longer seem to support a ban on corporate donations.

    “Unilateral action by one competitor to put themselves at a competitive disadvantage, has not worked for FG in the past. As such, I don’t see why they would do it again.”

    It’s about the country, not the party. That me féin attitude is what has us where we are now IMO.

    @Thomas and Joe, thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Mark, it is about the country but self destructive actions that completely impede the ability to fight an election aren’t much use to the country. It is still very unclear from all the reporting if Flynn made the donation himself or it was his company.

    I think FG should have shown some basic cop-on and refused the donation whether he was doing so personally or corporately but the broader corporate donations issue only comes up if it was a corporate rather than personal donation.

  6. @Dan

    Flynn and his company are pretty much one and the same in the public eye. It’s the NAMA-link that people find distasteful.

    It’s not only important if it was a corporate donation IMO. He could have given a personal and a corporate donation, both beneath the declaration limits, or even multiple personal donations beneath the limits which would equal or exceed the corporate limits, and the transparency issue would be the same.

    I mean, it’s perfectly possible if the Indo wasn’t there that we’d never know nothing about individuals who funded the political parties. Perfectly easy to work the system as it stands to avoid any declarations.

  7. I agree that in the public eye there is no difference between Flynn the individual and his companies (and so FG should have politely declined his cash) but it does make a difference in how you would go about dealing with the problem. If he gave it in a personal capacity then all the hoopla over corporate donations is missing the point. It’s not just about corporate donations, it’s about donations period. And you’re dead right it would appear that there are loads of smaller donations being routed through 3rd parties to avoid having to make a declaration.

    I think that all donations of any size should be public and traceable.

    The question of the Indo being there is an interesting in that one would presume that they’ve applied the same investigative resources to all the other parties fund raising events, cos they’re concerned about the issue in general. Aren’t they?

  8. Golf outings are used throughout the country as fundraisers and are so used by both political parties and individual politicians.People can hardly be excluded from them because theyare involved with NAMA and indeed they might benefit from such outings to take their minds off other things.Flynn seems to have been the only developer at this outing . The amount involved was very small–22billion of taxpayers money to Anglo which we are told we will never see again puts thing into perspective.Just gotta wonder why the Sunday Indo devoted 5 articles and the time of three of their top journalists to highlighting the outing in such graphic detail.

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