Business Irish

Monday 5 December 2016

Michael Smith

ROISIN BURKE

Published 27/02/2011 | 05:00

FORMER TD Michael Smith is now a backer of an international farm investment firm.

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From Roscrea, he was first elected in 1969 as Fianna Fail TD for Tipp North. As well as a spell in the Seanad, he held portfolios in Energy, Environment and Education but is best remembered for Defence (1997-2004). There he faced the Army deafness compensation issue which resulted in claims of €300m against the State -- a figure Smith said could have hit €1bn if the matter wasn't handled effectively.

He showed grit in effecting cutbacks to the Army and six barrack closures, and privatised the national Search & Rescue service previously run by the Air Corps.

While Environment Minister, he referred to the planning process in Dublin as a "debased currency". He initiated a garda enquiry in 1993 into allegations that money changed hands in rezoning, but it yielded no evidence.

His political career ended after the 2007 General Election, when he lost his seat. The then Tanaiste Brian Cowen nominated him for the board of the ethics watchdog, the Standards in Public Office Commission, later that year. The six-person board decided in 2008 there was "no basis on which to initiate an investigation" against Bertie Ahern over 'dig out' loans/gifts from businessmen in the Nineties.

A former farmer, Smith is a director of and an investor in Agricultural Capital Partners, a farm investment vehicle based in Kilkenny.

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