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Facing family dilemma, Flynn’s daughter breaks with Fianna Fail

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — The government has received another blow as a result of the £50,000 payment allegations involving Euro Commissioner Padraig Flynn. His daughter, Mayo TD Beverly Cooper-Flynn, opted for automatic expulsion from Fianna Fail’s parliamentary party rather than support a call for her father to clarify the situation.

London-based property developer Tom Gilmartin has claimed he made a £50,000 donation to FF and gave a check to Flynn in 1989 when Flynn was environment minister and party treasurer.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described the loss of a backbencher as "disappointing" and "rare" in FF, but he had no reason to believe she would not be a loyal supporter of the government on other issues.

"We do understand the dilemma that Beverly Cooper-Flynn was in and she obviously felt that that was what she had to do," Ahern said.

While Beverly-Flynn, 32, will continue to vote with the government, her loss has alarmed the coalition as unpredictable sleaze allegations from the two sitting tribunals continue to threaten government stability.

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The Dail debate on a call for an explanation from the commissioner was dominated by two extraordinary speeches.

Cooper-Flynn tried to stake out some high moral ground and was openly contemptuous of opposition "political opportunism."

Former PD leader Des O’Malley delivered a vindication of his stand against Charles Haughey, which led to his expulsion from Fianna Fail in 1985, for "conduct unbecoming."

The tensions within the coalition were obvious.

Uneasy Fianna Fail backbenchers listened more intently to O’Malley’s words for any coded indications of Progressive Democrat intentions than they did to Flynn’s outraged daughter.

In a hard-hitting speech, Cooper-Flynn said she spoke with the "emotional involvement of a daughter whose family loyalty is on the table."

She threw down the gauntlet to her colleagues to support her and her father and delivered a thinly veiled attack on party leaders.

"Fianna Fail should not collude in our own destruction or collude in the continuing portrayal of our party as intrinsically, essentially and eternally flawed by seeming to reward others who claim to be our moral guardians," she said.

"Every time we do it we are buying today’s revival at the cost of tomorrow’s existence. We are eroding our own faith in ourselves and we are betraying our supporters.

"Until I see the votes counted I will not bring myself."

O’Malley was trenchant in his indictment of the long shadow cast by former Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

"If you disagreed with the leader’s views, you could be intimidated, threatened, even assaulted, within the precincts of this house by his more thuggish elements," O’Malley said.

He said he had been thrown out of the party and others had left. "But there were many who didn’t leave," he said. "Many who felt totally comfortable in the kind of party which Charles Haughey had created. Among those was Mr. Padraig Flynn.

"It might not be widely appreciated but Mr. Flynn and myself have something in common. We have both been dumped upon from a height by Fianna Fail."

Politicians, O’Malley said, warming to the task, "can choose to respond with courage, integrity and determination to eradicate the cancer of corruption that has poisoned the political and commercial affairs of this country in recent years, or they may choose to shirk their responsibility. They may choose to act the cute hoor yet again. They may choose to turn a blind eye, look the other way and indicate their tacit toleration and acceptance of a culture of crookedness and corruption.

"The people of this country will then have a choice. We may have no general election for two of three years, but events may dictate otherwise. Whenever the next election is held, the question of standards in public life is likely to be one of the main items on the political agenda — if not the main item."

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