Sunday 23 October 2016

Lucinda says she didn't get benefit, cites 'dirty tricks'

Published 15/02/2016 | 02:30

Lucinda Creighton. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Lucinda Creighton. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton has claimed she is the victim of a smear campaign after it emerged the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) received an anonymous complaint relating to her.

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Ms Creighton said there is no truth to an allegation that she failed to declare a 'benefit in kind' during her time as a minister of state.

And she suggested that the complaint was the result of "dirty tricks" linked to her former party, Fine Gael.

"I was made aware that this was coming down the tracks 18 months ago, when I was contacted by a Fine Gael activist who told me that, at senior levels in that party, there was a plan to smear me through the Standards in Public Office Commission.

"I was aware that something was coming," she said.

However, Ms Creighton repeatedly refused to say who she believes is behind the alleged smear campaign, saying she didn't want to get sued.

"There's a lot of very powerful people in this State. They don't like it, they don't like us, they don't want us to be elected and you know what, we're going to fight back," she said.

The original complaint to Sipo claimed the Dublin Bay South TD had received a 'benefit in kind' through the alleged receipt of either a partial settlement, discount or forbearance on the payment of legal fees she had incurred with Simon McAleese Solicitors in the course of defending an action for defamation brought against her in 2012 by property developer Michael O'Flynn.

The case was settled after two days of hearings in the High Court, with Ms Creighton issuing an apology to Mr O'Flynn for remarks she made at the MacGill Summer School in July 2010, in which she expressed her disquiet over the developer's participation in a Fine Gael golf fundraiser at the K Club.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Ms Creighton described the complaint as "frivolous" and said it was "a very cheap shot".

"I think it's an absolute disgrace that political opponents of mine are trying to use and abuse the Sipo process to smear me and doing so in the full knowledge that the Standards in Public Office Commission doesn't meet until March.

"So this was lodged two days after the election was called, in the knowledge that Sipo can't meet until March.

"They have made clear to me that no evidence has been furnished. Obviously this frivolous complaint will be dismissed," she said.

Asked if she was being paranoid about the situation, Ms Creighton replied: "I've been in politics so long I'm way beyond being paranoid.

"I'm well aware what goes on in other political parties.

"I'm well aware of the agenda that exists."

Ms Creighton intends to ask Sipo if it can convene a special meeting to deal with the complaint against her in advance of the General Election on February 26.

Irish Independent

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