Thursday 24 May 2018

Cork developers attend €85 breakfast for FG minister

Cork based property developer Owen O'Callaghan. Photo: Tom Burke
Cork based property developer Owen O'Callaghan. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister Dara Murphy.
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A controversial Fine Gael political fund-raiser attracted some of Ireland's highest profile developers.

An €85-a-plate breakfast in Cork for European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy was supported by major developers Owen O'Callaghan and Michael O'Flynn.

Mr O'Callaghan developed Opera Lane in Cork city centre and Mahon Point Shopping Centre.

Mr O'Flynn developed Cork's EastGate commercial park and Ireland's tallest residential building, the Elysian Tower.

Mr Murphy organised the fund-raising Imperial Hotel breakfast as he stressed that "democracy has to be funded."

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was the keynote speaker and staunchly defended the event.

It was attended by more than 140 FG members and supporters and friends of Mr Murphy as well as representatives of Cork's business and arts community.

Other high-profile people in attendance were businessman John Mullins, as well as solicitor and former CAB director, Barry Galvin.

The fundraiser proved controversial given the cost per plate - and the fact the proceeds were going towards Mr Murphy's re-election campaign rather than general party funds.

Mr Murphy's arrival was greeted by about a dozen anti-water charge campaigners led by John O'Donovan.

"It is obscene for anyone to pay €85 for a breakfast. There are families living on less than that a week for food," he said.

Mr Murphy walked over to the campaigners and chatted briefly to them at 7.30am before the breakfast began.

But Ms Fitzgerald insisted she was happy to attend the event.

"I am very pleased to support Fine Gael colleagues. We have an election coming up and we have very strict rules about fund-raisers.

"Clearly, all of those rules are very strictly adhered to. There is huge transparency and accountability in terms of any event now.

"There are very clear rules laid down by the Standards in Public Office and that is the reality of fund-raising today.

"Obviously, Fine Gael and every member, deputy and candidate will comply very carefully with those rules."

The funds raised - an estimated €10,000 - will now go towards Mr Murphy's re-election campaign in four-seat Cork North Central.

"I accept that for some people here €85 is a significant amount of money which is why I am very grateful and humbled," the Cork TD said.


O'Callaghan has supported both FF and FG politicians

Cork property developer, Owen O'Callaghan, has always been pragmatic about his political support.

Mr O'Callaghan was one of the high-profile businessmen who attended an €85-a-plate breakfast fund-raiser for European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy (FG).

However, Mr O'Callaghan has also provided support for other political parties.

Current Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin TD, received total political donations of IR£6,200 (€7,800) from Mr O'Callaghan between 1989 and 1993.

Former Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe (FF) received IR£10,000 (€12,700) in 1992.

Mr O'Callaghan made donations to the late Liam Lawlor TD and former Cllr Colm McGrath (FF) of IR£10,000 (€12,700) in 1991.

The Mahon Tribunal found evidence of no donation to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Irish Independent

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