Dunlop dismisses claim he is still protecting developers
Former political lobbyist told ‘big lies about important matters’ at tribunal 13 years ago
“Aren’t you incredibly lucky, earning all those millions from developers for telling councillors this would bring jobs? Why would they come over all Santa Claus to you?” asked Mr O’Higgins.
“You’d have to ask them. To put it crudely, that’s how it works,” said Mr Dunlop.
Mr Dunlop said he was introduced by the late Liam Lawlor to David Shubotham, one of the partners in Davy Hickey Properties, who wanted to develop land at Newlands in Saggart, which became known as Citywest. He said the vote to rezone lands at Citywest took place on March 11th, 1991 and was the first time he had been involved in lobbying councillors.
He agreed they had managed to get all of the councillors bar one to vote in favour of the rezoning, and that the process involved meeting the councillors and flying 20 of them to Bristol to visit a business park there, as none existed in Ireland at the time. Mr Dunlop agreed Citywest gave him £20,000 in June 1991 for councillors who might have requested it, but denied that it was “dirty money”.
“People were entitled to legitimate donations,” he said. “You can’t point to any reason why these hard-nosed developers who had cash flow problems and couldn’t pay your fee, why would they give £20,000 to you on the understanding that you would have it available for councillors?” asked Mr O’Higgins SC.
“It was the culture of the time and place,” replied Mr Dunlop.
“Sorry, the culture of the time was that the country was on its knees. Could it be a sort of ‘Thanks lads, you looked after us, you did the right thing?’,” asksed Mr O’Higgins.
“I don’t think so,” said Mr Dunlop.
Mr Dunlop agreed his career prior to becoming a political lobbyist, including his time spent in a seminary, his work as a RTÉ journalist and as a Fianna Fáil press secretary, showed that he had “a streak of idealism”. However he denied that “it all went wrong” and he later became “an out-and-out cynic”.
The corruption trial resumes tomorrow before Judge Mary Ellen Ring and a jury of seven women and four men.
One juror was discharged this morning because of a bereavement. The trial is expected to last until the end of this month.