Developer says Creighton defamed him
A Cork developer told the High Court yesterday he was “absolutely shocked” by comments made about him by Minister of State Lucinda Creighton.
Michael O’Flynn, chairman and managing director of the O’Flynn Group, alleges he was defamed in a speech by Ms Creighton, then a backbencher and now Minister of State for European Affairs, titled Standards in Public Life and Accountability, at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal.
Ms Creighton made the speech shortly after extensive press coverage about a Fine Gael fundraising golf classic at the K Club attended by Mr O’Flynn. The father of four alleges he was defamed in that speech of July 20th, 2010, and in a follow-up interview with Ms Creighton broadcast on RTÉ Radio’s News At One the same day. He also alleges defamation against Ms Creighton in a follow-up Irish Times article on July 24th, 2010.
The case is being heard before Mr Justice Eamon de Valera and a jury. Ms Creighton denies the defamation.
Mr O’Flynn (55) told his counsel, Declan Doyle, he was “absolutely shocked” on hearing an interview with Ms Creighton on RTÉ’s News at One which was critical of his participation in the golf event to which her party had invited him. In her Glenties speech, Ms Creighton had said there could be no room in Fine Gael for “the cute-hoor politics” which she said had tainted Irish public life like “an incurable cancer . . . We cannot be satisfied with low standards in high places.”
She said: “We cannot, on the one hand, condemn Fianna Fáil for entertaining developers in the Galway tent, while on the other hand extend the biscuit tin for contributions from high-profile developers, who are beholden to Nama.”
In her subsequent interview on RTÉ’s News at One, Ms Creighton said what made her uncomfortable was that the golf classic was “supported by a developer who is one of the top-10 indebted developers to Nama in the country”.
Asked if she was referring to Michael O’Flynn, she said “yes”. She said: “That’s the one really that stands out.”
At times emotional, Mr O’Flynn told the court: “I was absolutely shocked I could be attacked in such a way so publicly”. He said he “treasured” his reputation and “I’ve never done anything to bring low standards”.
He said: “I can take the punches better than most but this impacted on my wife, my brothers and sisters and my family . . . I don’t want them feeling I did something in my life that was wrong.”
A former chairman of the Cork branch of the Construction Industry Federation, he said he did not have “a big engagement with politics” but supported democracy. He said he had in the past supported other parties and “I never supported any party to get anything back from anyone”.
He said he had no say in his loans being taken over by Nama, that all his companies were operating and that he was working with Nama to pay off his loans.
He had paid €1,500 to participate in the four-ball event.
The case continues today.