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Saturday 18 November 2017

Activist rejects Mullen's claims for confidentiality

Sam Smyth

The latest spin-off from the Seanad expenses saga took an ironic twist last night when a wannabe Dublin councillor joined the attention-seeking cast.

Martin O'Sullivan (34), who complained about a senator refusing to name a politician who advised him how to fiddle expenses, said that he wouldn't identify violent left-wing demonstrators.

The People Before Profit candidate said he would not name protesters to the authorities who rushed the gates of Leinster House in May, even if he knew who they were.

"I would ask them to identify themselves, but I wouldn't have identified them," said Mr O'Sullivan, an IT worker who was a candidate for Dublin's Artane-Whitehall ward in last year's local elections.

Mr O'Sullivan made an official complaint after Independent senator Ronan Mullen told a radio programme on June 3 that an elected member of the Oireachtas advised him how to dishonestly claim travelling expenses.

The elected representative (Mr Mullen will not say if it was a TD or a senator) suggested he claim mileage from his family's home in Co Galway instead of Dublin where he lives.

He told Mr Mullen he could get the price of a house out of his ill-gotten gains.

Mr O'Sullivan has called on Mr Mullen to name the individual, but so far he has refused.

"It's one thing to take a view that it probably illustrated a certain view at the time, it's another thing to put somebody's good reputation on the line," said Mr Mullen.

"That would create a difficulty for me, in all honesty, but obviously I'll look respectfully at what the committee are saying."

The conservative senator accused the leftist People Before Profit organisation of making a "vexatious" complaint to the Senate Committee on Members' Interests.

"Ronan Mullen has a lot to say about what he sees as issues of morality such as Civil Partnership. However, on other moral issues such as abuse of public money by elected representatives he does not feel strongly enough to name those who advocate it," said Mr O'Sullivan.

Although he questions Mr Mullen's and other elected politicians' right to confidentiality, Mr O'Sullivan says in most cases it should be allowed for journalists, doctors and lawyers.

"The scale of the two things (the violent demonstration at the gates of Leinster House in May and Mr Mullen claiming confidentiality) is totally different," he said. "It was a case of mild disobedience (outside Leinster House)."

He added: "Journalists should have a right to confidentiality if they are protecting their sources in the public good."

But he is less generous to the senator. "The wall of secrecy, which protects wrongdoing, must be dismantled if Ireland is to learn from its past," said Mr O'Sullivan.

Irish Independent

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