Live coverage of the Irish presidential election on IrishCentral - Friday, October 28th

A businessman and convicted fuel smuggler who gave presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher a $8,000 check for a Fianna Fail fundraiser in 2008 has released a statement confirming Martin McGuinness’ claims.

At Monday night’s RTE ‘Frontline’ presidential debate Gallagher said he could not remember whether  he had collected a donation of almost $8,000 from Hugh Morgan when confronted by Martin McGuinness on the matter.

Gallagher has tried to fob off criticism that he is a Fianna Fail  stealth candidate and has stated he never raised money for them. However, Morgan’s statement seems to directly contradict Gallagher’s contention.

Since this matter has come to light criticism of Gallagher’s support has intensified , with Labour Party candidate Michael D Higgins the pick of the bookmaker’s to win on  Thursday.

It was Sinn Fein’s presidential candidate Martin McGuinness who outlined Gallagher’s involvement with Morgan, a convicted criminal. Morgan’s statement made on Tuesday confirmed McGuinness’ claims.

In the statement Morgan confirmed that he had “dealings” with Gallagher which led to his attendance at the Fianna Fail fundraiser in Dundalk.

He wrote “Sean Gallagher, who I had never met previous to this, contacted me by phone. He first phoned me on the 6th June 2008 and invited me to attend the above fundraiser. In the course of the call he requested a donation of €5,000.00 for Fianna Fail. He advised me that this type of fundraising would replace the annual Galway Tent Fundraiser. In return for the €5,000.00 donation I was promised a private audience with the Taoiseach and I would get a photograph taken with him.

“He told me that the Taoiseach would give an up-date on the economy in the South which in his words was 'beginning to wobble'

Morgan continued “On the 27th June Sean Gallagher visited my business premises at Killean, County Armagh. I wrote a cheque for €5,000.00 and gave it to him personally. The cheque number is 13014. I still have the stub of the cheque, This payment is declared in my Company accounts and was cleared through my bank on the 1st July 2008.”

The convicted criminal now the owner of, international business, Morgan Fuels confirmed that he was charged with tax evasion in relation to fuel smuggling. He wrote “It is a fact that approximately fourteen years ago I was convicted of tax evasion in relation to fuel smuggling in Northern Ireland. As a consequence to that, I have repaid the Exchequer and paid a substantial fine.”

On Tuesday morning speaking on Irish radio Sean Gallagher called Martin McGuinness’ tactics a “hachet” job.

He said “My view will not be diverted by tactics such as political assassination by Martin McGuinness or anyone else in Sinn Fein…It was an ambush, they are well used to that. It is obvious to me that Mr Morgan (Hugh Morgan, the businessman) loaded the gun and Mr McGuinness pulled the trigger.

He continued “I was a member of Fianna Fail and I am not ashamed of that. That was a legal fund-raising event I was at, not like some of the Sinn Fein events.

“I accept that my memory of what happened is hazy but I have no intention of allowing Martin McGuinness or Sinn Fein take me out.”

Live coverage of the Irish presidential election on IrishCentral - Friday, October 28th