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Embattled EU Commissioner Flynn to Speak at University

Irish politician allegedly misused party funds

By Robin M. Wasserman, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Irish European Union Commissioner Padraig Flynn, who has spent the last month battling allegations of campaign finance improprieties, will speak today at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies.

Despite the controversy surrounding Flynn, experts say they do not expect objections to his visit.

Flynn will join former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich, speaking on "A Social Model for the New Millennium--European or American" in a speech cosponsored by the Center for European Studies, the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Law School and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

According to a series of articles in The Irish Times, Flynn allegedly received and misappropriated a 1989 donation of 50,000 pounds intended for Flynn's political party, Fianna Fil. The donation came from London-based property developer Thomas Gilmartin.

Flynn, then-Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, has denied the accusations but has yet to release a complete statement explaining his actions.

Shattuck Professor of Irish Studies Tomas O'Cathasaigh said he sees nothing amiss about Flynn coming to speak at the University while in the midst of political difficulties.

"This is not something that has been fully investigated yet, and there is no particular reason to think that he did anything improper," O'Cathasaigh said.

Though the Dil, the Irish parliament, lacks the power to remove Flynn from his position, many members--including some from Flynn's own party--are considering a motion calling for his resignation.

The controversy recently spread to involve the current Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the equivalent of a prime minister, who recanted earlier denials that Gilmartin had met with him about Flynn's actions.

The Irish Times speculated that the recent allegations may have contributed to the Irish Government's recent drop in popularity among its constituents.

O'Cathasaigh said he did not expect Flynn's appearance to cause any disturbance within the Harvard Community.

"I shouldn't imagine that many people here are terribly concerned with this matter," he said.

Steven B. Bloomfield, director of the Fellows Program at the Weatherhead Center, was unavailable for comment yesterday. Flynn and Reich will speak from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the basement of Center for European Studies at 27 Kirkland St.

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