Sunday 26 February 2017

Developer calls on CIF's Parlon to quit

Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

THE Cork developer Michael O'Flynn has called for Tom Parlon to resign as head of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), accusing him of "denigrating" wealthy builders.

In an extraordinary email, Mr O'Flynn accused Mr Parlon of displaying an "obvious disdain" for some developers and of "ridiculing" them on the national airwaves by linking the size of their homes to the size of their egos.

His impassioned denunciation of Mr Parlon was prompted by comments made by the CIF director-general on the Marian Finucane radio show on RTE last Sunday.

During the show, Mr Parlon picked up on a report in the Sunday Independent on the expansive family homes owned by developers whose loans have been transferred to Nama. The report referred to Mr O'Flynn's impressive home in Kilcrea, Co Cork, along with those of Bernard McNamara and Sean Mulryan. All of the homes were pictured.

Mr Parlon apparently drew the wrath of Mr O'Flynn when he likened developers' homes to "headstones over their egos" and suggested that thousands of people in construction were struggling to make ends meet.

Mr O'Flynn, chairman and managing director of O'Flynn Construction, emailed other members of the CIF the next day calling for Mr Parlon's resignation.

He wrote that members had stood "shoulder to shoulder" throughout this time, determined to "defend our members" in very difficult times. The fate of the family home was "one of the most frequent concerns of members around the country".

It was "shocking", he said, that Mr Parlon should have gone on national radio "and initiated an attack in a most personal and offensive manner on myself and a number of specific CIF members."

Mr O'Flynn accused Mr Parlon of seeking to "attack and ridicule the very people he purports to represent. If we must take abuse from other members of society, so be it; but for abuse to be self-inflicted by a man whose salary we pay is unforgivable."

He asked whether Mr Parlon could be so "far removed" from his members that he "could not foresee the damage caused to members and the hurt to their families by his descriptions of our homes as 'headstones over their egos'."

Mr Parlon declined to comment yesterday, other than to express his disappointment that the matter was now in the public domain.

But the email has raised the eyebrows of CIF members and it hints at divisions between big and small members of the professional body.

Attempts to contact Mr O'Flynn were unsuccessful.

Mr O'Flynn circulated his email to 15 members of the federation. When its president, Matt Gallagher, said he was disappointed that the concerns should have been raised in an email, the Cork developer responded: "If Tom can denigrate prominent members and their families, with an audience of 400,000 listeners, then there can be no argument that I can state my case to 15 important colleagues in the CIF, who are at the front line of dealing with the concerns of members."

Jerry Beades, who represents small builders on the federation's executive, said: "The CIF is a broader church than Michael O'Flynn.

"Our sympathies this week should be with the sub-contractors who have been left high and dry by the Pierse Construction liquidation."

Sunday Independent

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