Five go on trial for receiving corrupt rezoning payments

Frank Dunlop to say James Kennedy retained him in 1991 to secure land rezoning

Businessman James Kennedy is charged with making corrupt payments to politicians at a number of locations in Dublin city. Photograph: Collins Courts

Businessman James Kennedy is charged with making corrupt payments to politicians at a number of locations in Dublin city. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

Five men have gone on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on charges of giving or receiving corrupt payments in relation to the rezoning of land in south Co Dublin.

Lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions made opening submissions this morning before Judge Mary Ellen Ring. The hearing of witness evidence was due to start later in the day.

The accused include three former councillors and a sitting councillor, accused of receiving payment for voting to rezone lands at Jackson Way in Carrickmines.

The fifth accused, businessman James Kennedy (66), is charged with making corrupt payments to politicians at a number of locations in Dublin city, including Conway’s pub, Buswells Hotel, the Davenport Hotel and the offices of former lobbyist and government press secretary Frank Dunlop.

Setting out the prosecution case, Sean Gillane SC, for the DPP, said Mr Dunlop would give evidence to the effect that he was retained by Mr Kennedy in 1991 to secure the rezoning of the land.

Mr Kennedy gave him £25,000 to pay to councillors for this purpose, Mr Dunlop will claim, in return for a success fee of £100,000. Payments were made to eight councillors, four of whom are deceased, but the rezoning vote was defeated by 26 votes to 24.

Success fee

A second attempt was made to rezone the lands at Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council in 1997. Mr Dunlop will say he was to receive a success fee of £250,000, later varied to the value of one commercial acre, for securing the rezoning. A motion to rezone 36.85 acres of the land was passed by the council by 13 votes to 11 in December 1997.

Mr Kennedy, of Cormorant Way, Queen’s Quay, Gibraltar, is pleading not guilty to 16 counts of making corrupt payments between June 1992 and December 1997 to members of Dublin County Council and Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council to rezone land at Carrickmines as industrial. He also denies making the alleged payment of £25,000 to Mr Dunlop.

Colm McGrath (56), of Swiftwood, Saggart, Co Dublin, is pleading not guilty to corruptly receiving money on a date between June 12th and June 29th, 1992, for voting in favour of rezoning the land.

Donal Lydon (74), of Santo Antonio, Stillorgan Park Avenue, Co Dublin, is pleading not guilty to receiving money at St John of God’s on May 4th, 1992, for voting to rezone the land, and says he was elsewhere at the time Mr Dunlop claims to have made the payment.

Liam Cosgrave (57), of Merrion Park, Blackrock, Co Dublin, is pleading not guilty to five counts of corruptly receiving money on dates between June 1992 and December 1997.

Tony Fox (72), of Mountainview Park, Churchtown, Dublin, is pleading not guilty to five counts of corruptly receiving money on dates between June 1992 and October 1997.

The trial is expected to last until the end of the month.