09 February 2006

Developer 'damaged' by IRA claim


Peter Curistan said the claims were scandalous

A leading businessman has said he has been "severely damaged" by allegations made in the House of Commons by East Belfast MP Peter Robinson.

Using parliamentary privilege, the DUP deputy leader claimed Peter Curistan was linked to "IRA dirty money".

Mr Curistan, chairman of the Sheridan Group - the company behind the Odyssey Centre - denied the claim.

"I was horrified at these scandalous allegations that put my life and my family's life in jeopardy," he said.

Mr Curistan said his business interests had been "substantially" hurt by the claims.

In the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Robinson called on Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain "to ensure the activities of the Sheridan group and its association with the IRA's dirty money are fully investigated".

He also asked Mr Hain to "guarantee that no further public money is channelled in their direction until if ever, they get a clean bill of health".

Mr Robinson also named a business associate of Mr Curistan, Des Mackin - a convicted IRA man - in his Commons statement.

Mr Curistan said he had appointed Mr Mackin, who he said was a friend from when he worked in a bar as a student 30 years ago, as a non-executive director of companies in Dublin.

Peter Robinson used parliamentary privilege to make claims

"That was five years ago when we had Sinn Fein ministers and the whole process was moving very well," he said.

"Other than that I have no business relationships whatsoever, and the companies he was director of are now being struck from the register."

Mr Curistan said he had never supported violence or been involved in any political party.

"I call on Peter Robinson now to come in and inspect all our books; for him to appoint whatever accountancy firm he wants to come in an inspect our books for the last 10 years," he said.

"It has been done every year by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, they have not qualified the accounts in any way... If he does not take my offer up I think we all know the standard of his accusations"

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