13 March 2006

‘McDowell media campaign aims to criminalise me’

Irish Examiner

By Paul O’Brien, Political Reporter

FORMER Government troubleshooter Phil Flynn has accused Justice Minister Michael McDowell of orchestrating a “concerted media campaign” to criminalise him.

Mr Flynn also described as “credible” the explanation from his associate, Ted Cunningham, as to why stg£2.3 million was found in a bin in Mr Cunningham’s garden by gardaí probing alleged IRA money-laundering. The former Sinn Féin vice-president and trade union leader has remained largely silent since the Criminal Assets Bureau raided his Dublin office in February 2005. During that raid, officers seized a pen gun and two tear-gas cartridges, for which Mr Flynn later received probation.

Yesterday, Mr Flynn broke his silence, telling TV3’s The Political Party there was “political motivation” behind the raid on his office.

“The reason why I was raided is because I was a republican,” he said. Asked if he was accusing the justice minister of involvement, he replied: “I am, yeah, unashamedly. I’m saying his people, and himself, have briefed journalists... There was a concerted media campaign to criminalise me. Initially, I thought the target was Bertie Ahern, because a lot of the stories would drag Bertie into them. I think the real target, I’m convinced, was Gerry Adams. The strategy is: criminalise me (and) connect me with Gerry Adams.”

Mr McDowell refused to comment in detail on the accusation, saying only: “As certain matters relating to Mr Phil Flynn are still the subject of investigation, it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment at this stage.”

However, Mr Flynn, upon whom the Taoiseach has relied several times in the past to mediate disputes, said he was “confident” he would not be convicted of anything. He said lies had been spread about him that senior IRA members had been regular visitors to his home, including the provisional movement’s alleged former chief of staff, Thomas “Slab” Murphy.

Mr Flynn conceded, however, that Brian Keenan (another reputed IRA chief of staff) had visited his house “for a period, when he was being treated for cancer at the Mater Hospital and I was facilitating his treatment, and I also was helping with his bills.”

Asked whether the money found in Mr Cunningham’s house bothered him, Mr Flynn responded: “Now I asked him, and he gave me an explanation, which was credible to me.”

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