Dunlop tells trial he gave councillors cash for votes
Former lobbyist says he made payments on behalf of businessman James Kennedy
Frank Dunlop: “I met a large number of councillors from across parties. Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. I outlined the proposal and sought their support.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne
A former political lobbyist has told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he made cash payments to county councillors to secure their votes for the rezoning of land.
Three former councillors and a sitting councillor have gone on trial accused of receiving corrupt payments in relation to council votes that took place in June 1992 and October 1997.
Businessman James Kennedy (66) is charged with making the payments.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Seán Gillane SC told the jury that this was a case about the payment of money for votes.
He said they would hear evidence Mr Kennedy corruptly gave money to named councillors through political lobbyist Frank Dunlop so that votes could be secured in relation to the rezoning of lands owned by Mr Kennedy.
Mr Kennedy, of Cormorant Way, Queens Quay, Gibraltar, pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of making corrupt payments between June 1992 and October 1997 to members of Dublin County Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to rezone land at Carrickmines as industrial.
County 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 at various locations in Dublin on dates in June 1992 and October 1997 as inducements to rezone lands as industrial.
Mr Dunlop (65) told Mr Gillane that in 1989 he established a public relations company which had a variety of clients, corporate and otherwise.
He said that in 1991 he was referred to Mr Kennedy by John Caldwell, from the solicitors firm Binchy and Co, and was told Mr Kennedy had 108 acres of land in Carrickmines, known as Paisley Park. He said a short time later he went to meet Mr Kennedy.
This first meeting took place in the basement of Mr Kennedy’s business, an amusement arcade on Westmoreland Street. Mr Dunlop said that Mr Kennedy told him he wanted help in having his lands rezoned as part of the 1993 development plan before Dublin County Council.
Mr Dunlop said that, at the time, the land was zoned as agricultural and that Mr Kennedy told him it was impossible to use it for this purpose any more. He said the accused told him he wanted it rezoned as residential or industrial.
The witness told the court: “He recognised that to achieve the purposes he desired, notwithstanding any technical merit of the proposals, councillors would have to be paid money for their services.”
He said he agreed to accept £25,000 in cash “in full knowledge that a portion of that money would be used to give money to councillors”.
Mr Dunlop said it was also agreed that he would be paid a “success fee” of £100,000 if the proposal was successful and the lands were rezoned.
He said the cash was not handed over then but that he went back to the basement premises shortly afterwards and the accused gave him £25,000.
Mr Dunlop said he then undertook to lobby councillors to support a motion to rezone the land.
He said: “I met a large number of councillors from across parties. Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. I outlined the proposal and sought their support.