Sarah Carey in today’s Irish Times says she’s sorry for lying to the Moriarty Tribunal about the leaking of documents to political reporter Stephen Collins.
However, she once again glosses over her role in facilitating donations between Esat and Fine Gael.
The first issue is pretty straightforward. In 1995 I was 23 and the “marketing co-ordinator”, a relatively junior position, of Esat Telecom, which meant I helped organise marketing activities like corporate events for customers, advertising or product launches. I also dealt with the relationship between Esat and the Department of Communications, which was extremely fraught.
What Sarah Doesn’t Say: Sarah was 23, in “a relatively junior position”. But she was also a well-connected graduate of Trinity College and the Michael Smurfit Business School, which is why she was responsible for the relationship between Esat Digifone and the Department of Communications.
Esat was compiling a bid for the mobile phone licence. So I suggested to Denis O’Brien that showing up at Fine Gael fundraisers, typically lunches for £100 a head, would be a handy way to meet ministers so we could improve the company’s profile.
What Sarah doesn’t say: Sarah was connected to the Fine Gael party through her family. Her father was a FG councillor and she had known Phil Hogan, the party’s chairman at the time, according to her own testimony, “for years”.
This campaign culminated in sponsoring a golf tournament for £4,000. Initially we were going to have a sign at the golf event announcing Esat’s sponsorship and then O’Brien changed his mind about that. So a letter from me to Phil Hogan, who was running the event, requesting the return of Esat’s logo, is mentioned in the report.
What Sarah doesn’t say: There was no mention of logos. Moriarty reported “with respect to the wording of her own letter of October 9, in which she stated, “I understand Denis has requested there are no references made to his contribution at the event:, Ms Carey agreed that this seemed to indicate that she had been made aware of some dialogue between Mr O’Brien and Mr Hogan in this regard, although she did not have a specific recollection.”
I know this system of corporate fundraising for political parties leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths but I really don’t think anyone has any ethical issues to answer here. These events happen regularly, and in the case of the lunches everyone could see who was attending them. It couldn’t have been more transparent and I’m completely comfortable in standing by these normal corporate and political activities.
What Sarah doesn’t say: Moriarty reported that Sarah “agreed with tribunal counsel that the Golf Classic donation was made right in the middle of the licence competition, and stated that it was necessary to be somewhat discreet in the making of the payment, so that the media would not then become aware of it, or opportunities be provided whereby opponents or journalists might have misconstrued it.”
(RTE Prime Time)