Glenna Lynch And The Dragon

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Glenna ‘not Glenda’ Lynch (above) was the person who questioned Sean Gallagher’s business ethics and acumen on the Frontline debate last night (before the Martin McGuinness ‘envelope’ moment).

On RTE R1’s Today With Pat Kenny, a still-smarting Sean Gallagher questioned Glenda’s motives.

Big mistake.

Pat Kenny: “Last night a woman, a business woman herself asked you…..”
Sean Gallagher: “Who was the business woman and what’s her background? And where does she come from and what party does she belong to Pat?  I’m tired of people being wheeled out with agendas.  You put the person here in front of me, let them tell you and me and the nation their background rather than casting aspersions on me”.
Pat Kenny: “What are you saying about that person?”
Sean Gallagher:  “I don’t know.”
Pat Kenny:  “Because I’m assured that she’s an ordinary person. An ordinary business person who just doesn’t….”
Sean Gallagher:  “Is she a member of a political party?”
Pat Kenny:  “I have no idea.”
Sean Gallagher:  “Well here you go Pat, you wheel people out on a programme and they throw allegations at me without them defining who they are, what their political allegiances is.  I find that difficult. The last time i was on your programme, the telephone line was left open….”
Pat Kenny:  “Sean, can I just tell you, this woman rang in this morning and I wasn’t going to mention this because I don’t think it’s fair to the woman and she said “Please I want you to understand I have no political agenda. I am just an ordinary person, I want to assure you of that.  If it should come up in the debate, I’m just an ordinary Joe. I asked a question last night in good faith”.”This is the question that she asked”:
(Plays segment from Prime time)
Kenny:  “So you answered her question, but she was just commenting “All the stories in the newspaper about the loan that was misplaced and so on and so forth, the amount of money that was taken out of the company in a particular year which was an enormous percentage of…””
Gallagher:  “It wasn’t in a particular year Pat and you’ve got to get these facts right. It was over two years and it was divided between two directors.”
Kenny:  “But it was still a huge proportion of the value of the company at the time. Wasn’t it?”
Gallagher:  “This is a sensational….”
Kenny:  “Was it or wasn’t it?  Wasn’t it a very significant amount of the value of the company?”
Gallagher:  “That’s not the point. The point is that the factory and the company…. the company was renting a factory and rent was being paid.  Now the company, the following year, once those… those were liabilities that the company had to pay and once that was sorted the rent was reduced to €10,000…. Directors’ fees were reduced so as to bring the company back into line.  The wording of that woman, and she may well be… and I’m not casting aspersions on her, but you don’t know why she was there and her political background… She’s talking about improper, voter worry, ye know, is she in somebody else’s campaign team, trying to take down my campaign to boost somebody else’s campaign? Is she a member of a political party?”
Kenny:  “OK, she’s actually willing to go on air (aside) ‘Do you have her online yet?’  We’ll get her online, Sean, if you want to challenge her.”
Gallagher:  “I’m not interested in challenging the woman. If the woman is genuine, that’s fine. I’m just saying this is the sort of stuff that I’m dealing with…An audience full of people that come from different candidates’ backgrounds. I have never said one thing negative about any one of those candidates throughout this entire campaign, nor should I want to Pat.”
Kenny:  “At the same time, they’ve all had a pretty rough time it has to be said.
Gallagher:  “Correct and you know it’s sad, it is sad….”
Kenny:  “I’ve heard commentators saying even this morning saying that this is actually an election in which the background in politics is not a great help.  If that were so, Gay Mitchell whose party is at 36% in the polls would be doing very well.”
Gallagher:  “I learned something last night about Gay Mitchell. Gay Mitchell is a fine and honourable man whose wife came over to me and told me that she was sickened by what happened last night.  I have huge regard for Gay Mitchell because while he had made some political and snide comments about me, he’s a man of great integrity and I have found him nothing but supportive.  Like Dana and others in this campaign.  I think we all should be proud of the fact that we stood forward for this role of president to try and help represent Ireland at a difficult time. I salute all of those.”
Kenny:  “OK.”
Gallagher:  “The only person who I think dishonoured that candidacy last night was Martin McGuinness.”
Pat Kenny:  “Glenda Lynch  is actually on the line if you want to pick up a set of headphones.  Glenda Lynch, It was suggested by Sean that you have some party affiliations, do you?”
Gallagher:  “I didn’t, I asked the question.”
Glenna Lynch:  “Pat, I’m absolutely… I’m so shocked, I was driving on my way to see someone, a client in work, and I had to stop the car.  It’s absolutely shocking. I’m a completely normal person.  I have 3 children, I’m married, I live in Stillorgan. I’m not involved in any political party. I don’t even know one single politician and I think it is extraordinary that Sean believes that people… normal voters don’t have a right to ask a question.”
“I emailed the frontline last week, a really long email because I was so frustrated at the level of questions that were not being asked in relation to Sean and his activities of the last 10 years or 20 years and on foot of that email the Frontline team emailed me back and said would I ask a question. I said yes. I had so many questions and I had to choose one myself and that’s the question I asked.  I could have asked Sean questions last night for 2 hours.”
“I didn’t even come close to asking him why was he so unwilling to repay the loan of €20,000 odd that he was given by Louth enterprise board.  It was such a dishonourable thing to do, to be the beneficiary of a loan like that, a start up loan, and then when business goes well, to transfer the assets out of the company and leave the loan there un-repaid. And actually the real implication of that Sean is that you actually prevented probably another man or woman in county Louth from receiving a similar hand up in terms of start up business.”
“That’s the first thing.  In terms of, you mentioned last night and mentioned again this morning about your employment record and your jobs, The reality is that you received extraordinary and probably very, very unprecedented levels of state funding for a business that was not export lead or manufacturing lead, you know, during the Celtic Tiger period and in the course of that money flowing into your company, yourself and your partner basically raided the coffers.  You took extraordinary amounts of money out. I know nothing about property Sean, but I do believe that it is probably an amazing thing that an industrial premises… (interference)… Office premises in an industrial park in County Louth was paying a rent of €195,000 in 2009.  I would say there are landlords all around the country with their mouths dropping open thinking that such a thing could have happened.  I actually think that you should be running NAMA if you can get a 20% return.  And I say 20% return because you alluded to the fact at some point that that property was worth €1,000,000. That was an extraordinary rent.”
Gallagher:  “I never alluded to that.”
Lynch:  “You said last night that hopefully now that you’ve stepped down from the company and you felt it was going to return to profit and now possibly that 20 jobs might be protected.  I put it to you Sean that by taking the salaries, the patent income and the rent from that company in the years that it was actually having losses, at the level that you did, you weakened your company.  There are employers all around this country who are leaving, who are taking virtually no salary themselves, who are leaving all their reserves……”
Kenny:  “OK, thanks very much for that.  Now, a number of questions there Sean.  I mean the business about the €20,000 that you were supposed to return.  Shifting assets out of one company, putting them into another, leaving the debt to the council in the first company and having literally to be forced to pay it back.  That is how it has been described. Is that a fair description?”
Gallagher:  “No it is not a fair description and it is the very same terminology that some Sinn Fein councillor in Louth put in a Tweet recently.”
Kenny:  “But it took you ages to finally repay a lot of that money.”
Gallagher:  “Let me explain that.  It is regrettable that these questions come up in order to take up the time when I should be taking about the vision of addressing issues and they are deliberately set to do this.”
Kenny:  “No hang on a second, you attacked this woman and she then rang in. We did not set up her call, I have to tell you that.”
(In the background – Glenda Lynch:  “It is probably the most important issue…”)
Gallagher:  “I’m going to explain it to you now Pat. Whatever money I got back in 2001 was for a particular company.  There were no assets transferred to a second company which was set up at a later stage.  The money was due to be repaid over a 7 year period.  The first two were a moratorium.  They were cumulative, redeemable, convertible preference shares.  That’s the complexity of it.  They were to be repaid in November 2008.  They were repaid 3 months after that in early 2009.  Now that is the facts and it was a settlement reached between both parties satisfactorily. That is the issue.”
Kenny:  “Second point she made is about the unprecedented amount of….”
Sean Gallagher: “Now the question is where did that come out of?  Where did that information come out of that was thrown in when a settlement was reached satisfactorily to both sides.  That was put in…..”
Kenny:  “It’s been in all the newspapers Sean, I mean, it’s in the public domain.”
Sean Gallagher:  “But again, where did it come from?”
Kenny:  “I don’t know.”
Gallagher:  “It was deliberately said as part of this campaign to damage me because I was moving in the polls.”
Kenny:  “OK, second thing she said was an unprecedented amount of state grants.”
Gallagher:  “Not unprecedented Pat, and everything that the company I was involved in, who was developing a product for the export market.  Everything was done above board and you can approach Enterprise Ireland or anybody else… Every single level…..”
Kenny:  “You’re saying that was proportionate to the effort you were making?”
Gallagher:  “Absolutely.”
Kenny:  “The third point was that by doing what you did, taking out the money that yourself and your partner took out, by taking out rental income and by taking out the patent income which has a particularly favourable tax treatment, that you weakened the very company itself by taking out too much money?”
Gallagher:  “No, not at all and every single penny that was owed was paid.  And everything was done to make sure that Smart Homes, and I can tell you that that company survived when so many others related to the construction sector, providing services like subcontracting and manufacturing did not survive.  Our company survived because it was prudently managed and all the money that was there was put back in to redevelop and develop new technology which is now being launched and will see the company come into profit.”
Kenny:  “Her final point was about the level of the rental at 20% return on property that was valued at 1 million…”
Gallagher:  “It wasn’t valued at €1,000,000 and I don’t know where she’s getting her figures.”
Kenny:  “How much was it worth?”
Sean Gallagher:  “That’s irrelevant.  The fact is that…”
Kenny:  “Well no, it would give you an idea of what the return would be.  The return typically might be 5%; if it’s 20% then you’re charging too much for rent.”
Gallagher:  “No, The rental, Pat, was €6 per square foot on a 30,000 square foot building.  And what I did in that year, the rent was due to pay a mortgage, had to service a mortgage.  Every single person who rents a building knows that you must service the mortgage and the rent on the building.  The following month…..
Kenny:  “Sean hang on, lots of people who have buy to let houses are only partially servicing the mortgage with the rent.”
Gallagher:  “Pat, this is a company paying rent for its facility.  You can’t part pay the rent.  The rent was being paid…Now what I did, I went out and found a client to rent a part of the building to reduce the rent to €10,000. Now that’s what I managed to do to save the company and to secure its future and It has now turned a corner and I went out and brought a new MD in with international experience in the energy market.  Every single one of those strategies was implemented to protect and save and sustain the company and I am happy that I have done that as so many thousands of companies have had to do around this country.  I stand over everything I have done as being impeccable with honesty and integrity……Absolutely and I absolutely refute any allegations that will be framed in such a way as to make me, my company, or my integrity in any way, allow those to be undermined.”
Kenny:  “I’m sorry Sean that the time as you said had to be diverted to the topics which came up on the Frontline debate last night but that is the nature of the campaign…”
Gallagher:  “And I have called on my campaign team around this country as recently as yesterday morning to stay focused on a positive message about the future; our young people, our strengths, our communities, those with disabilities, small businesses and on emigration.  I am focused on the future of this country and my view will not be diverted by tactics such as this assassination, political assassination by Martin McGuinness or anybody else in Sinn Fein.”
Kenny: “Well I’m sure the viewers and the listeners will take that on board and make up their own minds come Thursday, but This is the final interview in our series of interviews with all 7 of the presidential candidates and my thanks to sean Gallagher for joining us here this morning in the studio.”
Gallagher:  “My pleasure.”

Listen to full show here

Thanks Tom Red