Belfast Telegraph

Businessman 'gave Gallagher cheque'

A businessman who donated 5,000 euro to Fianna Fail has insisted presidential candidate Sean Gallagher personally requested and collected the cheque.

Hugh Morgan said he did not know Mr Gallagher in June 2008 when he was promised a private audience and an economic update with then Taoiseach Brian Cowen in return for money.

"He advised me that this type of fundraising would replace the annual Galway Tent Fundraiser," he said.

"He told me that the Taoiseach would give an update on the economy in the South which in his words was 'beginning to wobble'."

Mr Morgan - convicted of fuel fraud about 14 years ago in Belfast - released details of the invite and donation after Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness alleged Mr Gallagher had personally collected donations for Fianna Fail.

The bitter row threw the presidential race wide open despite Mr Gallagher holding what appeared to be an unassailable lead.

Mr Morgan, a 51-year-old Newry businessman who employs 80 staff in Morgan Fuels and sponsors the Armagh football team, said Mr Gallagher personally visited him twice after the invite - first to pick up the 5,000 euro cheque and later to drop off a photo of him with the Taoiseach.

Mr Gallagher, who is standing as an independent, said Mr Morgan's version of events was completely at odds with what Mr McGuinness claimed he had been told.

"Sinn Fein and Mr Morgan have had so many versions of this fabricated story that it only serves to further compound the lie," he said.

Mr Gallagher had initially denied collecting Fianna Fail donations and then suggested he may not remember the meeting with Mr Morgan.

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