Beverley Flynn

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Beverley Flynn
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1997 – February 2011
Constituency Mayo
Personal details
Born (1966-06-09) 9 June 1966 (age 48)
County Mayo, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fianna Fáil
Other political
affiliations
Independent
Spouse(s) John Cooper (divorced)
Alma mater University College Dublin

Beverley Flynn[1] (born 9 June 1966) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. She served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Mayo constituency from 1997 to 2011.[2]

Early life and political career[edit]

She is the daughter of former Fianna Fáil minister, Pádraig Flynn, who once famously described her as a "class act".[3] She first stood for election in the June 1994 Mayo West by-election as the Fianna Fáil candidate, but was not successful. The by-election was caused by the appointment of her father Pádraig Flynn as European Commissioner, and was won by Michael Ring of Fine Gael. She was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1997 general election, as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Mayo constituency.[4] In 2003, given that her marriage to John Cooper had ended sometime previously, she requested that the media refer to her as Beverley Flynn rather than Beverley Cooper-Flynn.

Libel action[edit]

RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird claimed in a report that while an employee of National Irish Bank Flynn had assisted clients of the bank in evading tax by funnelling undeclared income to Clerical Medical schemes based in the Isle of Man. Flynn denied the claims and sued RTÉ, Bird and retired farmer James Howard for libel in the High Court in 2001. The jury found that although RTÉ had not proved its case (it was a different employee that had handled Howard's account), the allegations were found to be substantially true (that RTÉ had proved Flynn had encouraged others to avail of illegal investment schemes). Thus, despite Flynn technically winning the case, she was awarded no damages (as her reputation was not materially damaged), along with costs being awarded against her. Flynn then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Ireland, where she lost.[5][6]

Delay in paying costs[edit]

Flynn at first offered to settle with RTÉ for €590,000. RTÉ rejected this and moved to have her declared bankrupt.[7] When the bankruptcy action against her opened in the High Court in June 2007, her lawyers were granted a postponement to allow her to challenge the constitutionality of legislation which bars bankrupts from Dáil membership. Lawyers for RTÉ accused Flynn of embarking on a "litigious frolic in her own interest".[8] She subsequently abandoned plans to challenge the legislation.

On 24 June 2007, Flynn announced that she had reached a final settlement with RTÉ, with Flynn paying €1.24 million of the outstanding €2.4 million[9][10] The settlement created a major outcry from the public, the print media and by some TDs as RTÉ, Ireland's public service broadcaster, is part-funded by a television License fee.[11] The then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern 'rejected as "contemptuous" and "sinister" any implication that he was involved in the settlement [between Flynn and RTÉ].'[12] Ahern issued the denial after allegations made by Fine Gael and the Labour Party that RTÉ bowed to pressure from him to reach a settlement with Flynn. RTÉ also denied this took place.[13]

Relationship with Fianna Fáil[edit]

Flynn has had a difficult relationship with Fianna Fáil. She was forced to resign from the party in February 1999 because of the allegations against her but rejoined in November 1999. In April 2001, she was expelled from the party but was allowed to rejoin Fianna Fáil again before the 2002 general election. She was expelled again in May 2004 after the results of her libel case were made public. A cumann (branch) of the Fianna Fáil party that had continued to support Flynn was disbanded by the party headquarters, a first for Fianna Fáil. She successfully contested the 2007 general election as an independent where she was elected on the eighth count. She was readmitted to the Fianna Fáil party at a meeting of its national executive on 3 April 2008[14] in what some have described as "questionable circumstances."[15]

Independent TD allowance[edit]

After she rejoined Fianna Fáil, controversy has arisen about Flynn's entitlement to a tax-free allowance available to independent TDs.[16][17] This allowance is to allow independent TDs to compete with those who are from a political party on level terms for the duration of their term as an elected representative. However, upon her return to Fianna Fáil there were questions about whether or not she continued to qualify.

She responded that, in addition to her €106,000 basic salary, she qualified for the €41,000 allowance as she won her seat as an independent TD.[16] After meeting with the Taoiseach Brian Cowen on 6 January 2009, she stated that she would no longer claim the allowance. She also stated that the allowance was used to benefit her constituents.[18]

She retired from politics at the 2011 general election.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Previously known as Beverley Cooper Flynn.
  2. ^ "Ms. Beverley Flynn". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  3. ^ Kealy, Willie (14 May 2006). "We haven't seen the last of the great 'Flynnasty'". Sunday Independent. 
  4. ^ "Beverley Flynn". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  5. ^ "Beverley Flynn pays €1.2m libel bill after 2,300 days". Irish Independent. 17 August 2007. 
  6. ^ "RTÉ awarded costs after Flynn libel case". RTÉ News. 24 June 2005. 
  7. ^ "Beverley Flynn pays €1.2m libel bill after 2,300 days". Irish Independent. 17 August 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "Flynn gets postponement in bankruptcy case". RTÉ News. 18 June 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2007. 
  9. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (25 June 2007). "€1m payoff clears way for Bev's FF return". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  10. ^ "Beverly Flynn finalises €1,225,000 settlement with RTÉ". Irish Independent. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  11. ^ "Flynn/RTÉ settlement unjust to taxpayers". Sunday Independent. 1 July 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  12. ^ Quinlan, Ronald (8 July 2007). "Bertie's class act in dealing with the Mayo difficulty". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  13. ^ "RTÉ to brief FG, Labour on Flynn debt deal". The Irish Times. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  14. ^ "Beverly Flynn readmitted to FF". RTÉ News. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 3 April 2008. 
  15. ^ "Beverley Flynn crosses the line". The Irish Times. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  16. ^ a b "Taoiseach to discuss allowance with Flynn". The Irish Times. 5 January 2009. 
  17. ^ Brennan, Michael (5 January 2009). "Cowen to confront Flynn over €41,000 extra payout". Irish Independent. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  18. ^ "Flynn to give up Independent TD allowance". RTÉ News. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2009. 
  19. ^ "Beverley Flynn will not contest election". RTÉ News. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2010. 
Oireachtas
Preceded by
New constituency
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Mayo
June 1997–Feb. 1999
Succeeded by
Herself
as Independent TD
Preceded by
Herself
as Fianna Fáil TD
Independent Teachta Dála for Mayo
Feb. 1999–Nov. 1999
Succeeded by
Herself
as Fianna Fáil TD
Preceded by
Herself
as Independent TD
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Mayo
Nov. 1999–Apr. 2001
Succeeded by
Herself
as Independent TD
Preceded by
Herself
as Fianna Fáil TD
Independent Teachta Dála for Mayo
Apr. 2001–Apr. 2002
Succeeded by
Herself
as Fianna Fáil TD
Preceded by
Herself
as Independent TD
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Mayo
Apr. 2002–May 2004
Succeeded by
Herself
as Independent TD
Preceded by
Herself
as Fianna Fáil TD
Independent Teachta Dála for Mayo
May 2004–Apr. 2008
Succeeded by
Herself
as Fianna Fáil TD
Preceded by
Herself
as Independent TD
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Mayo
Apr. 2008–2011
Succeeded by
Michelle Mulherin
(Fine Gael)