An FOI request to OFMDFM still remains unanswered months after its original submission.
I requested information on whether there were any declarations of interest around Peter Robinson’s business relationships with Frank Cushnahan.
This request was in light of the fact that Frank Cushnahan was heavily involved in Peter Robinson’s “white knight” deal that cleared Glentoran’s tax bill via a mystery donor in January 2011.
At the time the Sunday World reported that the donor was comedian Frank Carson. This was a classic error. It appears that upon hearing of the involvement of a Frank C, the Sunday World put two and two together and got six. The real Frank C was none other that Frank Cushnahan.
At the time of this deal Cushnahan had already been put forward by the DUP onto Nama NI Advisory board, and was in the midst of contriving with others in one of the biggest political and business corruption scandals ever to hit Northern Ireland or the Republic.
As part of the deal Peter Robinson instructed Glentoran they would have to change solicitors and employ Tughans.
Whilst appearing to the public as a saviour, Robinson was in reality cynically strong-arming Glentoran. As the famous clubs only hope, Glentoran had no choice but to accede to Robinson’s pre-conditions.
A simple check of the companies house register will show that it was only a few short months prior to the deal becoming public in January 2011 that Tughans replaced the previous firm who had for many years been acting on behalf of Glentoran. Gareth Robinson was at this time undertaking lobbying work for Tughans and working closely with the Nama bagman, Ian Coulter.
As part of the deal Tughans received a payment in the region of £50,000 for handling the payment of the donation from the mystery businessman. This was an extraordinarily large payment for such a simple piece of work.
Rather than helping pump money back into Glentoran, Peter Robinson was ensuring that his business cronies received a rather large slice of the pie.
But the key question is this, what was the motivation? Why did Peter Robinson’s “white knight” demand seats on the Glentoran board?
Why would someone so keen to help the club with a ‘donation’ not simply make a donation, why the pre-condition that Tughans had to be the legal firm involved?
The answer lies in a proposed ground move for Glentoran and the potential for a lucrative land deal. Wouldn’t it be alarming if the individual who actually put the money up was one of those property developers who was also set to benefit out of the Nama deal.
But first of all, the Glentoran football club supporters deserve an explanation as to why Peter Robinson stipulated that the club would have to employ Tughans- and pay them a huge amount of money- to facilitate a bail-out deal that was supposed to be in the best interests of the club.