Creighton was seeking publicity, says developer

Thu, Nov 15, 2012, 00:00

Developer Michael O’Flynn has told the High Court he believed a speech given by Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton two years ago was not about addressing the lack of independence of politicians but about seeking attention for herself.

“The main message was looking for attention by mentioning something to create the sort of stuff politicians feed off,” he said.

He was being cross-examined on the second day of his action alleging defamation against Ms Creighton, now Minister of State for European Affairs, arising from her speech to the MacGill Summer School in 2010 in which she said, among other things, there could be no room in Fine Gael for “cute-hoor politics”.

Ms Creighton, then an opposition TD, said Fine Gael in government must be “much more than Fianna Fáil lite” and could not condemn that party for entertaining developers in the Galway Races tent while extending the “biscuit tin for contributions from high-profile developers who are beholden to Nama”.

Arising from that speech, she gave an interview to RTÉ radio in which she expressed unhappiness that Mr O’Flynn had financially supported a Fine Gael fundraising golf classic a few days earlier in the K Club at a time when, she said, he was one of the top 10 indebted developers to Nama.

Ms Creighton denies defamation and says she was expressing an honest opinion.

Asked yesterday by Paul O’Higgins SC, for Ms Creighton, if he agreed the message of the speech was politicians should be more independent and not follow the party line, Mr O’Flynn said: “I have a very cynical view as to why it was made and what the real message and agenda was.”

Good faith

In earlier exchanges with Mr O’Higgins, Mr O’Flynn said he gave money to Fine Gael “in good faith” when they asked him to enter a team for the golf classic. “I have given money and you are suggesting that someone somewhere should be analysing it and whether this money should have been accepted.”

He agreed his attendance at the golf classic attracted attention but did not accept it was a “major national topic”.

The court also heard, shortly after Ms Creighton’s radio interview and an article in The Irish Times, Mr O’Flynn sought an apology from Ms Creighton through his solicitors. He told his counsel, Declan Doyle, her solicitors proposed she would issue a press release on her website and to The Irish Times and would also make a contribution to a children’s hospital. He refused and wanted an apology which would receive the same publicity as Ms Creighton’s “attack” on him, he said.

The hearing continues.