Politician who said he was 'broke' spent cash at top eateries
A councillor at the centre of corruption allegations who said he couldn't pay a compensation order has spent hundreds of euro on new clothes and trips to some of Dublin's best restaurants, a court has heard.
Cllr John O'Donnell, who featured in an RTÉ Investigates programme in December, appeared at Letterkenny District Civil Court yesterday over outstanding payments of €33,000.
The independent politician has failed to pay off a personal injury claim to Petra Kucklick, of Rooskey, Creeslough, Co Donegal, which was ruled upon in 2008.
It relates to an incident in 2000 in which Cllr O'Donnell had run over Ms Kucklick's foot with his car. Cllr O'Donnell stopped making €200-per-week compensation payments in 2009.
Laura O'Reilly, barrister for Ms Kucklick, quizzed Cllr O'Donnell on his expenditure in recent months.
Going through his bank statements, she said the politician had spent €960 in one transaction at a clothes shop in Letterkenny in December, €260 on Hollister clothes and hundreds of euro at River Island, while not paying her client the money she was owed.
She also said Cllr O'Donnell had dined out at Dublin restaurant Café en Seine in December before spending €350 on a night out at Peploes Wine Bar on St Stephen's Green six weeks ago.
The barrister also outlined a range of other transactions in pubs and hotels in Co Donegal.
In his evidence, the politician said: "Like most men, I only go clothes shopping once a year."
He said five friends had paid their share of the Peploes meal and he had put the entire bill on his debit card and all the other transactions involved getting cash back because there was no ATM where he lived.
Asked about up to €4,000 coming into his account in recent weeks for property rentals, Cllr O'Donnell said he was no longer in control of the properties and the money had been spent to pay for cleaning septic tanks and grass-cutting bills.
He denied a Porsche and two BMWs he had on his Facebook page were his despite describing one of them as 'my baby' and said he was starting a process to be declared bankrupt.
The judge said he was satisfied Cllr O'Donnell was "not impoverished" and able to pay €100 per week and varied the payment order adding: "If that isn't met, I will take an entirely different view of the matter."