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Sunday 26 February 2017

Kenny must answer questions over party donations -- Martin

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny was urged to answer questions about one of his ministers who was "directly involved" in receiving donations covered by the Moriarty Tribunal.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said current Environment Minister Phil Hogan was "personally involved" in receiving a large donation from Denis O'Brien when he was aware Esat was competing for an immensely valuable state licence.

The Moriarty Tribunal report, Mr Martin said, raised "critical issues" about the evidence given by Mr Hogan to the tribunal. The Fianna Fail leader alleged that this evidence had not been accepted.

"It is now incumbent upon the Taoiseach to give his views on the credibility of a government member whose evidence has not been accepted by a tribunal established by the Oireachtas," Mr Martin claimed during last night's special debate on the report.

"The failure of the Taoiseach to do so has reinforced the impression of a Fine Gael party that believes that accountability is for other people -- that standards are to be demanded of others."

Mr Hogan was chairman of Fine Gael, the party's director of elections for by-elections and centrally involved in fundraising at the time the Esat licence was awarded, Mr Martin told the Dail.

Mr Martin also threatened to table a Dail motion demanding the resignation of former minister Michael Lowry if he did not resign voluntarily.

Such a move has the potential to embarrass Fine Gael, which has so far failed to call for Mr Lowry's resignation.

Mr Martin also raised questions about the six members of the current government who sat around the cabinet table when the second mobile phone licence was awarded.

"The evidence before the Tribunal was also that not one person in Fine Gael raised a concern during that time. This is all the more striking given the fact that a substantial sum of these donations was made in a manner where they were known to senior members, but designed to avoid public scrutiny," Mr Martin claimed.

He repeatedly claimed it was "not credible" for Mr Lowry to ask people to accept he met Mr O'Brien at this time without either of them mentioning the mobile phone licence competition.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams claimed the Moriarty Report raised questions about Fine Gael's links with big business. "By the standards exposed by the Moriarty Tribunal and the inadequate response thus far of the government to the report, this is a Republic in name only," he said.

Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan said the report made "disturbing" reading.

Irish Independent

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