Belfast Telegraph

Davis denies business-deal cronyism

Presidential hopeful Mary Davis has insisted she had nothing to do with the granting of a lucrative charity contract to her husband's PR company.

The independent candidate confirmed both she and her husband Julian Davis were on the board of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, although she has since stood down.

But she denied there was any "cronyism" involved in the awarding of a deal worth tens of thousands of euro by the not-for-profit organisation to Fleishman Hillard, of which Mr Davis is a director.

"We had absolutely nothing to do with the awarding of contracts in public relations and communications, or in any other area," she said.

Under questioning about her role on the board of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and other agencies during her official campaign launch, Ms Davis said she would have stood aside if there had been any discussions at board level about PR contracts.

"There was absolutely no cronyism at play here," she said.

"I had nothing to do with the awarding of the contract and if there were any discussions in relation to the awarding of a contract, like a public relations contract, I was not a party to those discussions."

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, set up to invest in and support social entrepreneurs, spent around 70,000 euro on public relations and marketing in 2008 and 2009, according to latest accounts.

Ms Davis said work done by her husband for Special Olympics Ireland, of which she was a head, was done on a pro bono basis, or unpaid.

She also used her launch to challenge Fine Gael to deny it was using pollsters to test negative messages about those running for the Aras on potential voters as part of a strategy to undermine its candidate Gay Mitchell's competitors.

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