Eoghan Dalton Reports
A Fine Gael general election candidate has said Cllr Eddie Mulligan has “questions to answer” after it emerged he had served on a theatre company’s board despite a High Court order disqualifying him from doing so. There was some doubt over Cllr Mulligan’s future as a Fianna Fáil candidate in Waterford last week but he has remained on the ballot alongside Mary Butler TD.
However, Cllr Damien Geoghegan has criticised Cllr Mulligan, saying that politicians at the local and national level need to be aware of good governance.
“I do think that Eddie does have some questions to answer,” the Dungarvan Councillor told WLR’s Damien Tiernan. “Eddie is to be complimented for being entrepreneurial during periods of his life – and he’s not to be criticised when things go wrong – but I do think he has handled it very, very badly. “We all know about governance and good governance and the declarations we have to make as public representatives.”
Meanwhile, when asked by WLR’s Damien Tiernan if she would like to see Cllr Mulligan remain on the Fianna Fáil ticket for Saturday 8th February, Deputy Mary Butler said that it was a “difficult question”. “I want to see Michéal Martin be the leader of the next Government and in order for Michéal Martin to be the next Taoiseach we need as many TDs as possible.”
Councillor Eddie Mulligan received the High Court order in January 2017 because of his management of his family’s hair salon business, as reported by the Irish Times last week.
It disqualifies him from operating as a company director and is in place until 2024. However the councillor served on the board of Garter Lane, a non-profit company limited by guarantee, for 17 months subsequent to receiving the disqualification order.
He resigned only after Garter Lane brought his ban to his attention.Cllr Mulligan and his wife Dervla were the directors of Hype Hair Salon Ltd, which owed Revenue €153,770.72 when it was placed in liquidation in 2014.Cllr Geoghegan said that he was among those who supported Cllr Mulligan’s nomination to the Garter Lane board in 2014. “I would never have known for example that Eddie would have been barred from holding any directorships,” he said.
The High Court order has a broad scope. Under the Companies Act 2014, it disqualifies the person from being appointed or acting as a director or other officer, statutory auditor, receiver, liquidator or examiner or “being in any way, whether directly or indirectly, concerned or taking part in the promotion, formation or management” of a company.
A person found guilty of contravening the Act is liable to a fine of up to €50,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. When asked if he had ever defied the High Court order, Cllr Mulligan told the Irish Times that he was appointed to the company’s board when elected to Waterford City and County Council in 2014 but resigned “as soon as” he was informed that his directorship could breach the order.
The disqualification took effect from 23rd January, 2017. A financial statement from December 2018 for Barker Arts Centre, which is the registered name for Garter Lane, records Cllr Mulligan as having resigned on 17th August, 2018.
It is understood he told other directors at the time that he was resigning due to work commitments. A spokeswoman for Waterford City and County Council told the Munster Express that a High Court order is not among its disclosure requirements for elected members.
Instead councillors are required to provide a record of business directorships, property held and donations received. She said the local authority does not require members to provide any reasoning if they resign from council-nominated positions. Cllr Mulligan, Fianna Fáil and Garter Lane did not respond to requests for comment.
Eoghan Dalton Reports