Flynn accused of 'cosy relationship' with developers

 

Mr Pádraig Flynn has been accused of having a "cosy relationship" with a British company that was trying to build a £100 million shopping complex on Dublin's Bachelor's Walk.

The former Fianna Fáil TD Mr Liam Lawlor claimed at the planning tribunal this morning that the records of contacts between Mr Flynn and Arlington Developments suggested he had divulged government secrets to Mr Tom Gilmartin, who was representing the British company.

Mr Gilmartin has told the tribunal he had a series of meetings with Mr Flynn, the-then minister for the environment, beginning in November 1987. He said he used the meetings to explain Arlington's plans to build a huge shopping complex along Dublin's north quays and seek redesignation of the area for tax purposes.

He said he also asked Mr Flynn to enact a compulsory purchase order on a number of properties on Bachelor's Walk.

Mr Flynn told Mr Lawlor, cross-examining, the government had already taken the decision to redesignate the area and extend the deadline for applications for tax breaks before he ever met Mr Gilmartin.

Mr Flynn accepted that he had told Mr Gilmartin of the government's decision to redesignate the area in December 1987, a month before it was officially announced by the-then minister for finance, Mr Ray MacSharry, in his budget speech of January 1988.

Mr Lawlor alleged Mr Flynn had "disclosed a Budget secret" and appeared to have had a "cosy relationship" with the developers.

Mr Flynn  insisted he was given authority by the Government to "speak privately" with Mr Gilmartin prior to the Budget announcement. He said the Government was anxious to see the area, which was very run down at the time, being redeveloped.

Why, asked Mr Lawlor, did Arlington fail in its bid to build the Bachelor's Walk site and another complex at Quarryvale? "There was a change in circumstances," Mr Flynn said.

He denied Mr Gilmartin's claim that Arlingon was forced to abandon its plans because of the intervention of "shadowy figures" and the government's failure to prevent the corruption and blackmail that was rife.

"I know nothing about that," Mr Flynn said. He insisted his door was always open to Arlington and he was always in favour of both developments.

Mr Gilmartin gave Mr Flynn a cheque for £50,000 in 1989. He claims it was intended for Fianna Fáil, while Mr Flynn insists it was a personal political contribution.