The land deals: what the Tribunal found




Former Fianna Fáil councillor the late Cyril Gallagher received a corrupt payment of £2,000 from Frank Dunlop in respect of his support for a vote for development of the Duff lands near Jugback Lane in Swords, the tribunal found.

The tribunal said that as was the case in other modules, Mr Dunlop’s evidence concerning Mr Gallagher was undenied given the fact that Mr Gallagher was deceased.

Mr Dunlop told the tribunal the Duff lands development was the first occasion on which he was asked for money by Mr Gallagher.

“The testimony of Mr Dunlop was to the effect that Cllr Gallagher’s request for money, and Mr Dunlop’s acceding to that request arose from the ‘culture’ or ‘system’ which Mr Dunlop said he was confronted with from the time he commenced the lobbying of elected representatives of Dublin County Council. The tribunal has accepted that such a culture existed and that Mr Dunlop both embraced and enhanced it.”


Four councillors received corrupt payments from Mr Dunlop in relation to a plan to rezone about 70 acres of lands owned by the Christian Brothers at Balheary, north of Swords, the tribunal found.

The late Tom Hand and Liam Cosgrave, both of Fine Gael, and Tony Fox and the late Cyril Gallagher of Fianna Fáil were found to have sought money from Mr Dunlop in return for their support for the rezoning of the lands for development in 1993. Each was paid £1,000 in cash.

Property developer and Fine Gael activist Joe Tiernan, who had acquired an option on the lands on February 8th, 1991, was also involved in the rezoning attempts.

The tribunal said it was satisfied that at the time Mr Tiernan retained the services of Mr Dunlop to assist in having the lands rezoned that “he was aware of and understood that” Mr Dunlop intended to make payments to councillors in order to secure support for the project.

The tribunal said it accepted the Christian Brothers were unaware that Mr Dunlop intended to make corrupt payments to councillors or that he made any such payments.


The tribunal found Tim Collins, Michael Hughes and Colm Moran knowingly provided Mr Dunlop with money to pay councillors in connection with the rezoning of land at Lissenhall in north Dublin.

The payments related to successful attempts in the early 1990s to rezone two adjoining parcels of land at Lissenhall, close to the M1, the main Dublin-Belfast road. The councillors in question were Cyril Gallagher and Tony Fox.

The tribunal was also critical of Cllr Anne Devitt who it said had acted as a consultant to the developers and who accepted a payment of £20,000 which the tribunal described as “entirely inappropriate”.

The tribunal said it was satisfied Mr Dunlop’s practice of making payments to councillors to support rezoning projects was known among property developers, at the time of his retention by the developers of the Lissenhall lands.

Its report said Mr Gallagher received a sum of £1,000 from Mr Dunlop in or about March 18th, 1993, in return for his signature on, and his support for, a successful rezoning motion lodged with Dublin County Council. Mr Dunlop also paid £1,000 to Mr Fox in return for his support.


Evidence given by Ciarán Haughey and John Barnicle in relation to proceeds from the sale of rezoned lands near Dublin airport, “was given with the full knowledge that it was false”, the tribunal found.

It also concluded Cllrs Tony Fox and Cyril Gallagher each received a corrupt payment of £1,000 in relation to the rezoning of the land.

It further said Cllr Anne Devitt had behaved entirely inappropriately in acting for the developers of the land in a professional capacity for reward, while also being a councillor.

The tribunal said a number of individuals, who subsequently became known as the “Cargobridge” consortium, had successfully sought to rezone land adjoining Dublin airport. The consortium’s members included Abervanta Ltd, which was beneficially owned by Mr Haughey and Mr Barnicle, owners of Celtic Helicopters, whose land was south of the Cargobridge lands.

The lands were rezoned in 1993. Abervanta’s interest in the Cargobridge lands was subsequently sold to High Degree Construction Ltd in April 1994.

The tribunal noted Mr Haughey and Mr Barnicle had claimed to have each received only £10,000 from the sale of Abervanta’s stake. But the report said this information was false and “was given for the purpose of concealing” the fact they had received “between them, directly or indirectly, approximately £164,000.”


Businessmen Tim Collins and John Butler were aware Mr Dunlop “might well engage in corrupt activity” when he was engaged in 1993 to lobby for the rezoning of 18 acres near Dublin Airport, the tribunal has found.

It said former councillors GV Wright, Cyril Gallagher and Tony Fox were paid £1,000 each in connection with the rezoning of the land, known as the Cloghran site.

Mr Butler was also found to have made “pick-me-up” payments of almost £10,000 to advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi in 1993.

The Cloghran site had been zoned for agricultural use, but a motion to rezone it for industrial use was passed at a Dublin County Council meeting in April 1993.

The report found Michael Kenny and Tom Williams, who were members of the consortium which owned Cloghran with Mr Butler, did not know Mr Dunlop “contemplated making corrupt payments to councillors to ensure their support”.

Mr Collins, who had found the land for the consortium, had introduced Mr Butler to Mr Dunlop at a meeting in January 1993.

After a conversation at the meeting, Mr Dunlop had concluded both men were “au fait” with his “system” of paying councillors for their support.

In total, the tribunal was satisfied Mr Dunlop had been paid over £36,000 for his services.


This focused on an unsuccessful attempt in 1993 to rezone 54 acres of land (the Walls Kinsealy lands) at Kinsealy Lane, south of Malahide Demesne. The land had been acquired in 1989 by Paul Walls for £240,000 through Glenellen Homes Ltd, which disposed of the lands in 1993 for £275,000.

In his written statement to the tribunal of October 9th, 2000, Mr Dunlop had claimed that in the course of his work as a lobbyist for Paul Walls seeking the rezoning of the lands as residential, he had paid Fianna Fáil councillor Sean Gilbride £1,000.

The tribunal found, however, that Mr Dunlop’s evidence in relation to the alleged payment was “vague and unconvincing”. It was not satisfied in this instance that it had been established on balance of probability that Mr Gilbride sought or received £1,000 from Mr Dunlop.


The tribunal found former Fianna Fáil deputy GV Wright received £2,000 from Mr Dunlop in return for his support for the rezoning of the Drumnigh lands near the old Baldoyle racecourse in Dublin.

It found he also received a separate corrupt payment of £500 from the land owner Denis Mahony. It accepted evidence from Mr Dunlop that he paid the then councillor £2,000 in 1993, and that the payment was wrapped in a newspaper and was handed over in the visitors’ bar in Leinster House.

Mr Wright had denied the claim and said he was friends with Mr Mahony and had supported his rezoning endeavours.

The tribunal found that the late Fianna Fáil councillors Seán Gilbride and Cyril Gallagher had solicited and received corrupt payments of £2,000 and £1,000 respectively in connection with the same rezoning.

The then Fine Gael councillor Nora Owen received a donation of £500 from Mr Mahony but the tribunal made no finding against her, saying she knew Mr Mahony for some time and generally supported the project.


“Corrupt” payments of more than £62,000 were made to Mr Dunlop to help in his bid to rezone 250 acres at Baldoyle in north Dublin, the tribunal has found.

It found Mr Dunlop had a beneficial interest in the site, known as the Penine Option, as did developer Brendan Hickey and stockbroker David Shubotham, between 1991 and 1996.

Four councillors were found to have been paid in return for supporting the rezoning of the site; the late Cyril Gallagher (FF), Tom Hand (FG), Tony Fox (FF) and John O’Halloran (Lab/Ind).

The land, at Baldoyle, was zoned green belt, but the developers had sought to have it rezoned for residential development. At the time, their efforts failed.

Between 1991 and 1993 Mr Dunlop’s company, Shefran Ltd, received payments totalling £62,500 from Davy Hickey Properties Ltd and other entities and individuals associated with that company, the report said.

Davy Hickey Properties was used by Mr Hickey and Mr Shubotham to invest in and develop property.

The tribunal was satisfied the payments were corrupt.


A number of councillors actively sought corrupt payments in relation to the rezoning of lands at Ballycullen and Beechill in South Dublin, while some others merely accepted such payments, the tribunal found.

The Ballycullen/Beechill module concerned two plots of land with which Christopher Jones snr, a founder member and major shareholder of the Jones Group PLC, was associated.

The tribunal found payments were made from companies within or associated with the group through Mr Dunlop and that Mr Jones snr was aware of what Mr Dunlop was doing.

The tribunal also accepted a payment from Mr Dunlop of £2,000 to then councillor and now Minister Pat Rabbitte in Mr Rabbitte’s home in 1992, had been returned. The tribunal said the decision to return the money was “commendable and correct”.

Among those who actively sought payments were councillors Don Lydon, Tom Hand and Seán Gilbride, according to the report. It also noted corrupt payments were accepted by Cllrs GV Wright, Tony Fox, Colm McGrath, Liam T Cosgrave and Liam Lawlor.


The report found councillors Tom Hand, Tony Fox and Don Lydon shared corrupt payments amounting to £4,000 relating to an early, unsuccessful attempt to rezone lands which today constitute much of Dundrum Town Centre.

The tribunal’s “Pye Lands module” was so called because it comprised the former Pye factory close to Dundrum Cross and land extending southwards to a site which was in 1992 in the ownership of Power Supermarkets.

The tribunal said it was uncontested that managing director of Pye Aidan Kelly retained the services of Mr Dunlop for a few weeks up to October 16th, 1992, the date of the special meeting at which the zoning of the Pye lands was considered. But there was “no evidence to suggest Mr Kelly paid money or attempted to pay money to any elected councillor” in relation to the rezoning.

In the event it was some time before the approval for the current centre was secured. However, the tribunal concluded Mr Dunlop did have an ongoing relationship with Mr Hand and Mr Hand was paid £2,000 to support the proposed October 1992 rezoning.

The tribunal found Mr Lydon and Mr Fox each solicited and were paid £1,000 in cash by Mr Dunlop for continued support in relation to the Pye lands.


Two corrupt payments of £1,000 each to councillors Liam Cosgrave of Fine Gael and Tony Fox of Fianna Fáil were the last “ever” corrupt payments made by Mr Dunlop, the lobbyist claimed.

This module inquired into attempts during reviews of the 1983 and 1993 Dublin County development plans to rezone about 22 acres of lands owned by St Gerard’s School Trust in Bray, Co Wicklow.In both instances, the attempts to get the lands rezoned were unsuccessful.

The tribunal was satisfied that both Mr Fox and Mr Cosgrave received “corrupt” payments in 1998 of £1,000 from Mr Dunlop in return for their support of a motion to rezone the lands. Both councillors “vehemently denied” the allegations against them.

The tribunal found that nobody representing the school’s interests suspected or was aware that payments to councillors were contemplated or made.