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Thursday 8 December 2016

Gallagher sat on board of quango that gave his firm cash

Michael Brennan and Eimear Ni Bhraonain

Published 15/10/2011 | 05:00

Sean Gallagher
Sean Gallagher

ONE of Independent candidate Sean Gallagher's firms got cash from a state enterprise quango he served on.

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He was appointed to the board of North-South body Intertrade Ireland at the end of 2007 -- and annual accounts for that year reveal they gave €41,970 to his Smart Homes company.

Yesterday, Mr Gallagher became impatient and declined to answer the question when asked if getting the funding was a conflict of interest, and said to speak to Intertrade Ireland.

He also became irate when asked why he had missed so many of the board meetings.

"I have been working for the last four years," he told the Irish Independent.

"Did you ask about the subcommittees, the equity network and the work that I do to help fund small businesses?

"Give me the dates and come back and ask me for specific reasons and I'll give you the dates that I was probably doing stuff.

"I would love if you guys would go and do positive stuff.

"Do you have any other understanding of the amount of schools I have spoken to, the enterprise agencies I have spoken to, of the universities I have spoken to, of all the small companies I have helped, and these are the questions you want to ask me?" he added.

Intertrade Ireland said the grant from its technology transfer fund was approved before Mr Gallagher joined the board in December that year -- and denied there was a conflict of interest.

But it also emerged that he managed to miss half of all Intertrade Ireland board meetings over the past two-and-a-half years -- despite getting €30,000 in fees.

He sent apologies for missing 13 board meetings between January 2009 and June 2011 -- while attending a further 13.

Mr Gallagher resigned from Intertrade Ireland last July to concentrate on his presidential campaign.

Given that Mr Gallagher also only attended two meetings while he was on the Fianna Fail national executive for two years, it will raise questions about his ability to stick to a schedule -- a key attribute for a president.

Intertrade Ireland said it could not comment on Mr Gallagher's attendance rate.

A spokeswoman for Mr Gallagher said the Intertrade funding of €41,970 had been approved three years before he had joined the board.

She said the funding was used to pay half the salary of a graduate from the University of Ulster to carry out research and development --with Smart Homes paying the other half.

And she pointed out that Smart Homes had won Intertrade Ireland's competition for best business plan in 2004.

According to the Gallagher campaign, he attended 22 out of 36 board meetings during his total period of service with Intertrade from 2008 to 2011.

He also chaired a sub-committee on small business and "participated in, on average, 12 extra meetings and events per year for Intertrade Ireland", it said.

Annual accounts for 2007 reveal Intertrade Ireland gave funding of £36,778 (€41,970) to Smart Homes.

The minutes of his participation in Intertrade Ireland board meetings show that he did have some successes.

Last June, he told fellow directors about a successful Venture Capital Conference, which was attended by 230 people.

"He advised that, as a result of sponsorship received and efficiency savings, the net cost of running the event had been substantially reduced," the minutes stated.

Intertrade Ireland is funded by the Irish and British governments.

Irish Independent

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