Main points and recommendations

Thu, Mar 22, 2012, 00:00

Main points and recommendations from the Mahon tribunal's final report, which was published today:

1 - Much of the explanation provided by Bertie Ahern about the source of substantial funds identified and inquired into by the tribunal was “untrue”. Ahern failed to account for over IR£165,000 which passed through bank accounts connected to him in the early and mid-1990s.

2 - The tribunal was unable to determine if Bertie Ahern received corrupt payments from developer Owen O’Callaghan because Ahern did not give a true account as to the source of the money

3 - A series of “extraordinary and unprecedented” attacks on the tribunal by government ministers in the 2007/08 period were designed to “ erode its independence and collapse its inquiry” into matters relating to Bertie Ahern

4 - Former minister Padraig Flynn received IR£50,000 from developer Tom Gilmartin in April 1989 to “ease or remove obstacles” in relation to the Quarryvale development

5 - Complaints to the Garda by Tom Gilmartin about Liam Lawlor, former assistant county manager George Redmond and Cllr Finbarr Hanrahan during 1989 corruption inquiry were not “thoroughly investigated” and the tribunal was puzzled as to why the Garda went to such lengths to exonerate Mr Lawlor and Mr Redmond

6 - Requests in 1993 from then taoiseach Albert Reynolds and then minister for finance Bertie Ahern seeking donations to the Fianna Fáil from developer Owen O'Callaghan were "entirely inappropriate, and was an abuse of political power and government authority". The requests culminated in the payment of £80,000 to Fianna Fail in 1994 against the backdrop of lobbying for support for a stadium in Neilstown.

7 - Former Fianna Fáil member Liam Lawlor abused his role as an elected public representative to a "very significant degree" and he “conducted a personal business in the course of which he corruptly sold his expertise, knowledge and influence as a councillor and as a TD for personal financial reward”

8 - Corruption continued at length in the planning system because it “affected every level of Irish political life” and “those with the power to stop it were frequently implicated in it”

9 - Cork-based developer Owen O’Callaghan personally made or authorised corrupt payments totalling almost IR£120,000 to politicians for their support for the rezoning of land at Quarryvale, now the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.

10 - Lobbyist Frank Dunlop made corrupt payments of up to £170,000 to politicians on behalf of developers such as Owen O’Callaghan to interfere with the planning process. Dunlop sought to "actively and purposefully mislead" the tribunal, particularly in relation to his contention that Mr O’Callaghan was unaware of his corrupt activity and significant sums of cash are unaccounted for.

11 - There was no evidence to suggest that former taoiseach Albert Reynolds only lodged a portion of the money raised during a fundraising trip to the US to the Fianna Fáil account. Reynolds did not receive a IR£150,000 payment from Owen O’Callaghan in 1994 or a IR£40,000 payment in connection with the Golden Island shopping centre in Athlone.


1 - Courts should be allowed to ban members of the Oireachtas who are convicted of bribery from holding public office and to remove their pension rights and commercial entities convicted of engaging in commercial bribery should be prohibited of from tendering for public contracts for seven years.

2 - Whistleblower legislation should be made more robust as it the tribunal said it plays an important role in the detection of corruption offences. The legislation should be extended to include independent contractors and a limit to the amount of compensation that can be awarded to those penalised for whistleblowing should be removed

3 – A planning regulator should be appointed to give direction to local and regional planning authorities as recent changes to the system have resulted in an over-centralisation of power in the hands of the minister for the environment. The regulator should be given powers to investigate possible systemic problems, including those raising corruption risks.

4 - The political finance acts - should be changed to place new limits on amounts that can be given in donations and the definition of a “donation” should be widened to be seen as “any contribution given, used or received for political purposes”. There should be greater disclosure of donations and political parties and elected representatives should be required to disclose their annual, audited accounts. Individuals should have to disclose the receipt of a donation of more than €55 and political parties should disclose donations of €175.

5 - There should be a new register of lobbyists, who should have to adhere to a statutory code of conduct. Lobbyists should have to disclose information regarding those for whom they are working as well as details of the public bodies they have lobbied and the objectives in mind. Senior office-holders should publish details of their contacts with lobbyists in relation to development and legislative initiatives.

6 - Disclosure requirements for public officials should be expanded to include conflicts of interest, non-material interests, electoral donations and “interests enjoyed by a public official as part of a class of persons”. Public officials should also be required to make a periodic disclosure of interests within 30 days of entering public office and to update their disclosures within 30 days of any significant change in their interests.