Ahern disowns EU commissioner

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The Independent Online
THE EUROPEAN commissioner Padraig Flynn suffered a potentially fatal blow to his career last night when it was revealed he was asked three months ago by Fianna Fail, the main Irish party, to explain a gift of IRpounds 50,000 from a property developer, but failed to reply

The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, yesterday sought to distance himself from Mr Flynn, 59, a former cabinet colleague and the EU social affairs commissioner, saying: "We have no desire to hide dark secrets from the past."

The cash gift was allegedly given to Mr Flynn when a businessman, Tom Gilmartin, was promoting a Dublin property development in 1989 while Mr Flynn was environment minister and joint party treasurer.

Mr Ahern said that in a letter dated 6 October, Fianna Fail's general secretary, Martin Mackin, asked Mr Flynn if he had received the IRpounds 50,000, if it was for the party; whether he had passed it to any party officer, and if so when. Mr Flynn has so far not replied.

The commissioner has made only qualified denials about the affair, saying: "I never took money from anybody to do political favours in so far as planning is concerned."