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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Creighton speech all about getting attention – O'Flynn

Tim Healy

Published 15/11/2012 | 05:00

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DEVELOPER Michael O'Flynn believed the main purpose of a speech given by Lucinda Creighton two years ago was to seek attention for herself, the High Court has heard.

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"The main message was looking for attention by mentioning something to create the sort of stuff politicians feed off of," he said.

He was under cross-examination on the second day of his defamation action against Ms Creighton, who is now European Affairs Minister and who made a speech at a summer school two years ago, while a backbench Fine Gael TD.

During the speech, Ms Creighton said, among other things, that there can be no room in Fine Gael for "cute-hoor politics". She also said Fine Gael in government must be "much more than Fianna Fail light" and cannot condemn FF for entertaining developers in the Galway Races tent while on the other hand extending the "biscuit tin for contributions from high profile developers who are beholden to NAMA".

Arising out of that speech to the MacGill Summer School, she gave an interview to RTE Radio in which she expressed unhappiness that Mr O'Flynn had financially supported a Fine Gael fundraising golf classic a few days earlier in the K Club at a time when he was one of the top 10 indebted developers to NAMA.

Ms Creighton denies she defamed him and says it was an opinion honestly held.

In an earlier exchange with Paul O'Higgins, counsel for Ms Creighton, Mr O'Flynn disagreed there was anything wrong with supporting a political party. "I look down there (at the courtroom) and there is her (Ms Creighton's) husband, who is also a politician and I contributed to his campaigns in the past."

Mr O'Flynn also agreed earlier that his attendance at the golf classic attracted a lot of media attention at the time but he did not accept it was a "major national topic".

Confidentiality

He agreed his debt to NAMA was "north of a billion" and that NAMA had paid around €35bn for around €70bn in loans which had been made by certain Irish banks.

However, he said he could only deal with his own business and he was not privy to what happened with other firms.

Asked by Mr O'Higgins about the fact that NAMA does not give out figures about which developers owe how much to it, he said people are entitled to confidentiality in dealing with the agency as they had done with the banks before the loans were taken over.

Being one of the "top 10" NAMA developers also meant those companies had large assets and incomes and it was a question of how good their businesses were, he said.

The court also heard that shortly after the Creighton radio interview and an article in the 'Irish Times', Mr O'Flynn sought an apology from her through his solicitors to have the matter sorted out as quickly as possible.

There was correspondence between his solicitors and her lawyers and there were proposals and counter-proposals

He told his counsel, Declan Doyle, that her solicitors put forward proposals that she would issue a press release which she would carry on her website and also issue to the 'Irish Times', along with a contribution to Crumlin Children's Hospital.

Mr O'Flynn said he refused to accept these proposals and wanted an apology which would receive the same publicity across the media that the "attack" Ms Creighton had made on him had received.

The hearing continues.

Irish Independent

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