Race for the Aras: Sean Gallagher defends €83k loan, FF links and slams ‘negativity’
PRESIDENTIAL candidate Sean Gallagher today slammed negative campaigning as it emerged that he had taken an €83,000 loan in 2009 that breached company law and invited businesspeople to attend a fundraiser for Brian Cowen in 2008.
Mr Gallagher, who was a member of the Fianna Fail National Executive in January last, admitted that he had taken an interest free loan for €82,829 from Beach House Training and Consultants Ltd that was in breach of company law which states that a director can’t have a loan that exceeds 10pc of the company’s assets. It had net assets of €114,320 at the time.
However, he claimed that it was an honest mistake and an accounting error was responsible.
“ It was an accounting procedure in terms of which account the money went into and the money was put into the wrong account. It was moved back within four weeks and doesn’t constitute a loan,” he said.
“Most people who know company law know that there are 15 pieces of legislation in relation to this. Accounts are not always up to date. As soon as my accountants spotted the error they brought it to my attention,” he said.
Directors who permit or authorise such loans can be prosecuted and liable for a fine of up to €12,700 or up to five years in jail if guilty. However if loans are repaid most prosecutions are not proceeded with.
Speaking on Morning Ireland Mr Gallagher also dealt with the matter of his invitation to business people in Louth to attend a fundraiser for former Taoiseach Brian Cowen where guests were asked to donate up to €5,000 to the party.
“It wasn’t a secret event. It was an event organised by Fianna Fail headquarters, not by me. I was asked if I would mention it to local business people, which I did. I sought no money or received no money from anyone,” he said.
Mr Gallagher added that he had attended the event, but had made no donations. He had mentioned it to three or four people, but had no idea if they made a donation.
He said that his Fianna Fail links was an issue that kept coming up but he was happy to clarify again that he was not a member of the party.
He said that he had launched a Fianna Fail campaign for former junior minister Dara Calleary in February as a member of the Dragon’s Den panel to talk about the economy and business because he knew Mr Calleary.
He said he regretted the attempt to ‘demonise’ ordinary members of political parties and that he viewed this as a retrograde step. “We should be encouraging people to get involved,” he said.
Mr Gallagher again attacked negative campaigning and said the issues for people were negative equity, unemployment and emigration and we needed to look to the future.
“I’m really sad that we continue to focus on negative campaigning,” he said, adding that he wanted to be an economic ambassador focussing on attracting tourists, trade and investment.