Corruption case against former councillor collapses
Don Lydon discharged from trial over rezoning of land at Carrickmines in Dublin
Witness Frank Dunlop arriving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court earlier this month. Photograph: Collins Courts
The case of alleged corruption against former councillor Don Lydon has collapsed.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring told the jury after legal discussion she had discharged him from the trial.
“As far as this trial is concerned ... He is no longer a matter for you to consider,” she said.
He had been facing allegations of corruption in connection with rezoning of land at Carrickmines in Dublin.
Earlier, former lobbyist Frank Dunlop said he obscured references to his business relationship with Cork businessman Owen O’Callaghan in his diaries because he did not believe it was important and it was personal to him, the Circuit Criminal Court heard.
Under cross examination in the corruption trial of businessman Jim Kennedy, a councillor and three former councillors, Mr Dunlop said “nothing ever came” of his relationship with Mr O’Callaghan, who had engaged him in connection with a development in Dublin.
He acknowledged, however, that he was paid IR£100,000 by him and given a further cheque for expenses of IR£100,000.
Michael O’Higgins SC, for Mr Kennedy, said “even with a business person you can have private moments” but what Mr Dunlop had excluded from his diaries, later produced at the Mahon tribunal which examined planning corruption in Dublin, were not personal matters.
He had deleted references to Mr O’Callaghan and the late Liam Lawlor, who had been a councillor in Dublin County Council.
Mr Dunlop acknowledged the tribunal had gone to considerable efforts to discover what deletions in his diary were and some deletions were never discovered.
Even “the might of the FBI” and its English equivalent were “unable to decipher it,” Mr O’Higgins said, and Mr Dunlop’s own barrister had described the deletions as “akin to a Jackson Pollock painting”.
But, Mr O’Higgins said, some information had been uncovered by analysts including information about Mr Dunlop’s business relationship with Mr O’Callaghan and Mr Lawlor.
Mr Dunlop was pressed about why he could not recall what a reference to figures of IR£50,000 and IR£150,000 meant in his diary. Mr O’Higgins said he couldn’t recall the meaning of those yet names and dates were “a gateway to a memory”.
Mr Dunlop said he used his diary “as an aid to recollect matters” in Dublin County Council.
“Our complaint is ... it is being used as a device to put meat on a non-existent bone,” Mr O’Higgins said.
“That’s your complaint,” Mr Dunlop responded.
He denied Mr O’Higgins’ suggestion that he was “treacherous as a witness”. He also claimed the tribunal had “preferred” his evidence in its report, though he said he’d never read the report.
Mr O’Higgins suggested Mr Dunlop was “living in cloud cuckoo land”.
Mr Dunlop also told the court he did not recall being asked to give a statement to the Criminal Assets Bureau on the rezoning of Quarryvale in West Dublin, a project in which Mr O’Callaghan was involved. And he said he did not recall telling his solicitor he wouldn’t give such a statement.
Mr Kennedy (66) has denied giving Mr Dunlop IR£25,000 in 1991 to bribe councillors to vote in favour of rezoning land at Carrickmines in Dublin. He has has pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption in connection with the rezoning.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor Tony Fox (72) of Mountainview Park, Churchtown, Dublin and former councillors Colm Mc Grath (56) of Swiftwood, Saggart, Liam Cosgrave (57) of Merrion Park, Blackrock, have pleaded not guilty to corruptly receiving money as inducements to rezone the lands from agricultural to industrial.
The case continues.