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Gardai find 'no evidence' of smear tactics against Fahey

JUNIOR minister Frank Fahey remained silent last night after gardai said there was no evidence to support claims of a politically-inspired smear campaign against him.

For more than six months a team of detectives have investigated the claims but sources say detectives found "absolutely nothing" to support Mr Fahey's assertions.

When such serious allegations are made by a Government minister, especially in the justice department, they are exhaustively evaluated by gardai.

The minister made the claims at a time when the media was reporting on his relations with late businessman Kevin McHugh, who received a significant proportion of the State mackerel quota from the EU.

Mr Fahey explained his interest in the property was not beneficial. He had put his name on the deeds as guarantor for a friend.

Other journalists were reporting on the former schoolteacher's multi-million property portfolio and his denial that he was an investor in a hair salon in Moscow, although documents appeared to link him to the company that owned the salon.

His declaration of interests in the Houses of the Oireachtas in 2005 showed him with interests in 20 properties in Ireland and seven others in the US and Europe. Most of the properties are owned with his wife, Ethelle, and a company, Sage Developments.

He became embroiled in a controversy seven years ago when it emerged that his name was on the title deeds of a property in Daytona beach, Florida, but this was not disclosed in the register of members' interests.

Mr Fahey explained his interest in the property was not beneficial. He had put his name on the deeds as guarantor for a friend.

It was against this background and increasing media interest in his business affairs that Mr Fahey declined to speak to the media, and then claimed he had been targeted by shadowy republican figures in Galway.

Mr Fahey said he had been put under surveillance by people who had started a smear campaign aimed at hounding him out of politics in Galway. While the garda probe was active, he refused to discuss questions about his business affairs.

Gardai followed up every allegation and interviewed every person who the minister believed was smearing his reputation, as well as many of his friends in business, including the late Mr McHugh.

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Gardai will follow up any new information if it becomes available. Mr Fahey declined to comment.

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