Developer attended Creighton fundraiser


FINE GAEL TD Lucinda Creighton, who earlier this week sharply criticised her party for accepting money from developers whose loans have been transferred to Nama, had a fundraiser in April that was attended by a property developer.

The developer, John O’Connor, of Ardilea, Clonskeagh, Dublin, was before Mr Justice Peter Kelly in the Commercial Court in March where he was warned he could be jailed if he did not provide information on whether he could honour an agreement with Esso Ireland to pay €4.3 million for a service station in Tallaght.

Mr Justice Kelly noted that Mr O’Connor owns many properties here and abroad, has bank borrowings of some €175 million and an excess of €42 million in liabilities over assets.

Yesterday Ms Creighton said her comments in Glenties, Co Donegal, earlier in the week had been specifically aimed at developers with loans that had been transferred to Nama. She said she did not mean that no developers should be invited to political fundraisers. “My only distinction is that I am talking about developers that are currently in Nama,” she said. “There are plenty of good developers out there.”

All land and development loans worth more than €5 million, and associated borrowings, are being transferred to Nama in an effort to clean up the banks’ balance sheets.

Ms Creighton’s comments in Glenties arose after it was reported that Michael O’Flynn of Cork-based O’Flynn Construction, which has transferred debts approaching €1 billion to Nama, had recently attended as sponsor of a €1,500 fourball at a golf fundraiser at the K Club, organised by Fine Gael.

“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. The Irish people expect more from Fine Gael; they demand more, and they are right,” she said.

Ms Creighton’s party leader Enda Kenny later said he was disappointed that she had raised an internal party matter at a public forum such as the MacGill Summer School in Glenties.

Ms Creighton said approximately 130 people attended her €100 a ticket fundraising event in the Four Seasons Hotel. She said Mr O’Connor was the only developer there and she had not known of his having been before the Commercial Court.

She said a distinction had to be drawn between the kind of developers making donations to the campaigns of constituency TDs like her, and the high-profile Nama developers, many of whom had forged close links to Fianna Fáil. “There are many developers out there who are upstanding. They are perfectly entitled to make donations,” she said. She said she had received a positive response from the public to the comments she made in Glenties.

She said there would be very few politicians in the State who hadn’t received support from developers and builders.

Mr Justice Kelly criticised Mr O’Connor in March after it emerged he had forgotten to list some of his properties in a statement of assets produced for Esso.

The judge said only a person with “medically diagnosed amnesia” would be able to forget they had the properties, given the number and value of them.

Mr O’Connor had no amnesia, just “an insatiable thirst” to acquire properties funded by others, he said.