Friday 22 September 2017

O'Flynn was once heir-apparent to an emerging political dynasty in his native city of Cork

Background

Gary O'Flynn at Cork Court in 2014
Gary O'Flynn at Cork Court in 2014
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

TWELVE years ago Gary O'Flynn was the heir-apparent to one of Cork's emerging political dynasties.

The solicitor was the son of Cork TD Noel O'Flynn (FF) and when, in September 2003, he was co-opted to take his father's old seat on Cork City Council after the introduction of the dual-mandate rules, he was considered one of the city's rising political stars.

Given the pact between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour over Cork's Lord Mayoralty, he was also considered a certain bet to be a future first citizen of Ireland's second city.

Articulate and media-friendly, Gary O'Flynn was seen as one of the 'new generation' of FF politicians.

Then he shocked both Cork voters and FF itself in December 2008 when he suddenly indicated he was standing down as a city council member.

No major reason was given for the resignation but friends indicated he was no longer enjoying local politics.

His brother, Kenneth, took the council berth which he continues to hold today having easily defended his seat at the last Local Elections.

Gary O'Flynn switched his focus towards the financial services industry.

He severed most of his political links save campaigning for his father and brother.

Noel O'Flynn is a self-made businessman who founded a hugely successful motor industry supply firm in Blackpool.

A gifted grassroots political campaigner, he stunned the Cork political establishment - including FF rivals - by translating his city council base from 1991 into a successful General Election campaign in 1997.

Noel O'Flynn won one of three seats captured by FF in the five-seat Cork North Central Constituency that was once the stomping ground of Jack Lynch.

He easily held his seat at the 2002 General Election and, with running-mate Billy Kelleher, similarly elected for the first time in 1997, was considered one of the leading candidates for promotion to Junior Ministerial ranks.

However, Noel O'Flynn was fearlessly outspoken on issues and, over time, became increasingly critical of the FF leadership.

One of his first clashes with the FF hierarchy came after controversial remarks he made about immigration in 2002.

He later criticised both Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen for their direction of both the country and party.

In 2011, his national political career ended when new leader, Micheal Martin, asked him not to run in the General Election amid fears the party could fail to return a single TD in the new four-seat constituency amid an implosion of party support following the financial and economic crisis.

Noel O'Flynn, in a magnanimous speech, agreed to step aside but later slated the FF leadership for failing to properly support the Seanad election bid of his son, Kenneth, in mid 2011.

In June 2014, Gary O'Flynn was convicted by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury on 13 counts of deception following a trial.

The following month, he received a three-year prison term, with the final two years suspended.

That prison term will end on February 24 next.

Gary O'Flynn has a history of psychiatric and medical problems with his defence team insisting that it is vital the court take such reports into consideration on his sentencing over soliciting to murder charges on April 22 next.

Irish Independent

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