By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The taoiseach has failed to endorse Padraig Flynn for reappointment as Ireland’s Euro-Commissioner amid renewed controversy over claims by a London-based property developer that he gave him £50,000 in the late 1970s.
Tom Gilmartin is expected to be a crucial witness at the Flood tribunal into allegations of political sleaze and corruption surrounding land development issues in Dublin.
A row about remarks Flynn made concerning the cash allegations and the health of Gilmartin and his wife on the "Late Late Show" has again put the political spotlight on him and resulted in a demand for the whole matter to be clarified by Labor Party leader Ruairi Quinn.
When asked by Gay Byrne about the £50,000 claim, Flynn began by saying that he had already said too much about it but then continued to add to the emphatic denial of the claim he issued when it first emerged last September.
"I never asked or took money from anybody to do favors for anybody in my life," he said.
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Later he continued, "I never took money from anybody to do a political favor insofar as planning is concerned."
Flynn said he knew Gilmartin as a Sligo man who went to England and made a lot of money but he had not seen him for some years.
"He came back wanting to do a lot of business in Ireland," Flynn said. "Didn’t work out for him. He is not well. His wife isn’t well and he’s out of sorts."
An apology to Gilmartin was later read out on the show by Byrne.
"In the interview it was suggested by Pee Flynn that Tom Gilmartin was sick. As far as Pee is concerned, Tom Gilmartin is not sick and has never been seriously sick and we would just like to say sorry and apologize for that."
An angry Gilmartin also spoke to the Sunday Independent and claimed that Flynn made numerous calls to his Luton home last September following the disclosure of the £50,000 payment claim.
"He spent about two hours on the phone trying to enlighten me on the circumstances, as he wanted me to see it, in which he received the donation," Gilmartin told the newspaper.
When questioned about the row during his visit to troops in the Lebanon, the taoiseach did not say whether he would reappoint Flynn for a third term to the £130,000 Euro-job.
He said Flynn had done "an outstanding job." The appointment of the next commissioner was something he would consider after the Euro-elections in June.
Commenting on the renewed controversy, the taoiseach said, "My view on all these matters is that if there are any issues that require to be debated, or to be discussed or to be analyzed or investigated — they are appropriate to the tribunals which the government have set up."