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Fraudster ex-TD Ned O'Keeffe 'disappointed' with Fianna Fail after resignation accepted

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Ned O'Keeffe, former Fianna Fail deputy for Cork East

Ned O'Keeffe, former Fianna Fail deputy for Cork East

Ned O'Keeffe, former Fianna Fail deputy for Cork East

FORMER Food Minister Ned O'Keeffe (72) is "very disappointed" Fianna Fáil accepted his resignation offer just days before he appeared before the District Court on expenses fraud charges.

Mr O'Keeffe, a FF member for six decades, confirmed to the Herald that he contacted an Opposition front bench spokesman last week as a personal courtesy to brief them on his impending court case.

In a subsequent conversation, after the TD involved had then conferred with party headquarters, the north Cork farmer offered to resign his FF membership. He had been told that the move "would spare the party any embarrassment".

PROUD

"Of course I was disappointed the [resignation] offer was accepted...I have been a proud member of the party for 51 years," he said.

Mr O'Keeffe, first elected as a TD in 1982, declined to comment any further. He insisted his position is fully reflected by a detailed statement of apology issued last Monday night.

However, his friends and family are said to be very annoyed that his resignation offer was accepted, despite the party's knowledge that he was repaying the full amount involved, had co-operated fully with gardai, was going to plead guilty and was going to issue an apology.

"He stood by FF loyally for many a year and it is a pity the party couldn't do the same for him now," one family source said.

The former Cork East TD was later led to believe that the organisation was "very relieved" he was willing to resign to avoid both the party and its leadership being placed in an awkward position in the days after the court case.

He pleaded guilty before Cork District Court last Monday to five charges of claiming Dail expenses by using fake invoices on dates between 2002 and 2009.

The former minister admitted the charges had "blemished...[a] distinguished record of public service".

Judge Leo Malone fined Mr O'Keeffe €3,500 and gave him a seven-month suspended jail sentence.

The veteran politician has repaid the entire €3,737.50 involved to the Exchequer. He later profusely apologised for what had happened.

"I would like to issue an unreserved apology to my family, friends and former constituents for my failure to maintain the highest standards in this matter," he said.

court

All five charges were brought under Section 26 of the Theft and Fraud Offences Act. The Director of Public Prosecutions had ruled the matter could be dealt with at district court level if there was a guilty plea.

The ex-TD was entitled to some mobile phone expenses from the Dail - but required invoices for other entitlements. These were then claimed using the five fictitious invoices.

Cork District Court was told that false invoices were submitted over the seven-year period from a Dublin motor support firm, a Dungarvan firm and a Fermoy electrical store to a total value of €3,737.50.

The charges followed a three-year probe by the National Bureau of Fraud Investigation (NBFI) into a complaint from a member of the public.

The millionaire pig farmer and businessman stepped down as a TD in 2011.

hnews@herald.ie


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