Kennedy told gardaí he did not give money to Dunlop, court hears

Businessman told gardaí he was not aware of rezoning motion for lands in Co Dublin

Businessman Jim Kennedy told gardaí he was not aware a motion had been tabled to have land he owned in Co Dublin rezoned.

Businessman Jim Kennedy told gardaí he was not aware a motion had been tabled to have land he owned in Co Dublin rezoned.

Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 18:15

Businessman Jim Kennedy “emphatically denied” he gave former lobbyist Frank Dunlop IR£25,000 in 1991 to bribe councillors to vote in favour of rezoning land in Co Dublin, the Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

Mr Kennedy (66), of Queen’s Way, Gibraltar told gardaí he could have bought “a small house for that” sum.

He also said he was not aware a motion had been tabled to have land he owned at Carrickmines, known as Jackson Way lands, rezoned.

He 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, Donal Lydon (74) of Santo Antonio, Stillorgan Park Avenue and 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.

Detective Garda Martin Harrington of the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) said in an interview with gardaí in October 2010, Mr Kennedy was asked why councillors would put down such a motion on lands he owned without his knowledge. He responded that he did not know and he described the late Liam Lawlor, then a councillor, as a bully. The smell of Mr Lawlor was enough to put him off Mr Dunlop, he said.

He also said rezoning “would have been expensive” because Mr Lawlor and Mr Dunlop had a PR company “and would require a fee”.

“If someone offered to do something for bribes for me, I’d go to the police,” he said.

Asked why Mr Dunlop would say he’d been given the money and had “served time”, he said Mr Dunlop was a “self-confessed criminal” who had perjured himself. He also said Mr Dunlop “had the knife in me” because of a deal over lands in Baldoyle.

He did agree to knowing some councillors, including the former leader of the Progressive Democrats Mary Harney.

“She possibly wouldn’t be in politics without me,” he said. But he said he had never met Mr Fox or Mr Cosgrave and had “no knowledge” of Mr Lydon or Mr McGrath.

Under cross-examination by Michael O’Higgins SC, counsel for Mr Kennedy, Det Garda Harrington agreed Mr Dunlop had been questioned by gardaí, between October 2006 and March 2007, about “six other ventures” . A file had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions on those matters, but he did not know what the current position was regarding them.

Questioned about notes taken from a meeting with Mr Dunlop in which he said Mr Kennedy got his land rezoned “by default” because other landowners in Carrickmines had been told to include more land in their application, Det Garda Harrington said he believed default meant “by mistake”.

Mr O’Higgins said it meant “obtaining something without doing anything to get it”. He asked if the rezoning was obtained by default why Cab had “wasted tens of thousands of taxpayer’s money pursuing this case”. The detective said there was other evidence.

Mr O’Higgins also highlighted a deposition by Mr Dunlop in which he spoke about an alleged payment of £2,000 to then Cllr Liam Cosgrave in Buswell’s Hotel in December 1997.

Mr Dunlop had said that the payment was “ex-gratia”, paid after the rezoning and without prior agreement or prior obligation, Mr O’Higgins said.

Det Garda Harrington said he could not comment on what Mr Dunlop said.

He also denied that the main priority for the Criminal Assets Bureau was to secure a Proceeds of Crime Order against Mr Kennedy.

The case continues today.