Monday 24 July 2017

Tensions heighten between FG and Perry

Mr Perry has been at war with Fine Gael since he successfully won a High Court action which paved the way for him to contest February’s general election. Photo: Tom Burke
Mr Perry has been at war with Fine Gael since he successfully won a High Court action which paved the way for him to contest February’s general election. Photo: Tom Burke

Philip Ryan and Niall O'Connor

Tensions between Fine Gael and its former minister John Perry have heightened after the party accused him of "ventilating" utterly unfounded allegations.

Mr Perry has been at war with Fine Gael since he successfully won a High Court action which paved the way for him to contest February's general election.

But following the election, Mr Perry made serious allegations against the party.

Most significantly, he claimed that a witness was placed under "considerable pressure" not to appear at the court case before Christmas. The witness allegedly put under pressure was Sligo councillor Hubert Keaney.

However, in a letter seen by the Irish Independent, Fine Gael described the allegation as "utterly unfounded and made recklessly without justification".

The party's solicitor Kevin O'Higgins wrote to Mr Perry's legal representatives saying it is a "matter of disquiet" to the party that the former politician would "seek to dredge up" matters related to a High Court case which was settled and included a confidentiality agreement.

"We see no benefit, therefore, in re-engaging, through you, with your client on matters pertaining to your client's litigation," Mr O'Higgins said.

Restraint

"We would expect you can exercise some decorum and restraint upon your client concerning the most serious about which he appears oblivious in ventilating," he added.

The solicitor describes the claim Mr Keaney was put under pressure not to give evidence in Mr Perry's High Court case as an "extremely serious allegation" which "is unfounded and baseless".

Mr Keaney claimed, in a letter to Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran, he was told by a third party that his political career could be in jeopardy if he took the stand in Mr Perry's case.

In the legal letter, Mr O'Higgins notes that Mr Keaney acknowledged that he was not approached directly about not appearing in court.

"What he has suggested, however, is that a named third party was told that Councillor Keaney's political future could be imperilled if he gave evidence," he said.

"The general secretary utterly refutes this allegation which is utterly unfounded and without justification," he added.

It is also understood Mr Curran has written to Mr Keaney denying he sought to stop him from appearing in court.

The John Perry row has caused deep disquiet within Fine Gael and is understood to have concerned Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The matter is due to be raised at the Fine Gael think-in in Kildare next week when Mr Curran is due to address TDs.

Mr Perry was unavailable for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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