Planning tribunal finds Dunlop made corrupt payments for Kennedy

Tribunal publishes witheld ‘Carrickmines module’

 File image of Frank Dunlop appearing at the Planning tribunal  in Dublin Castle.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

File image of Frank Dunlop appearing at the Planning tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Planning tribunal has concluded that former lobbyist Frank Dunlop made corrupt payments on behalf of businessman Jim Kennedy.

The “Carrickmines module” published by the tribunal this morning states: “The Tribunal was satisfied that it was intended by Mr Kennedy that Mr Dunlop would use all or a portion of the IR£25,000 to make corrupt payments to councillors.”

It also found former councillors Don Lydon, Liam Cosgrave and Colm Mc Grath and sitting councillor Tony Fox had received corrupt payments from Mr Dunlop.

The Carrickmines module looked at allegations that Mr Dunlop had bribed the councillors to rezone land belonging to Mr Kennedy, at Carrickmines along the route of the M50.

Mr Dunlop, who had a public relations company in the 1990s when extensive land banks in Dublin were being rezoned by councillors, served 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to corruption in connection with the rezoning of one of the those land banks, at Carrickmines in south Dublin.

Last month, the case against the councillors whom he alleged he had paid in connection with that rezoning collapsed.

The Carrickmines module had been withheld when the report proper was published in March 2012, pending the outcome of court proceedings involving Mr Dunlop.

Mr Dunlop alleged he paid former Fianna Fáil councillor Don Lydon IR£3,000 in 1992. In today’s report, the tribunal said it was satisfied Mr Lydon sought money from Mr Dunlop and was paid a sum of IR£3,000 and that this payment was corrupt. Mr Lydon had claimed to be at a funeral on the morning of the alleged bribe and at a hotel function in the afternoon. The tribunal found this would not have prevented him from meeting Mr Dunlop.

A IR£2,000 payment to former Fianna Fáil councillor Colm McGrath from Dunlop was not a “bona fide” political contribution and was corrupt. It was “simply not credible” that the payment was a donation, the tribunal found.

Two payments to former Fine Gael councillor Liam Cosgrave totalling £9,000 were also deemed corrupt by the tribunal, having been made in return for Mr Cosgrave’s support for the rezoning of Carrickmines.

And the tribunal found sitting Independent councillor in Dun Laoghaire Tony Fox did receive IR£7,000 in two payments made in 1992 and 1997 for his support to rezone the lands and these were corrupt.

Mr Dunlop also alleged he paid the late Fine Gael councillor Tom Hand IR£3,000 in 1992 and the tribunal accepted that and said it was corrupt. The tribunal also said Mr Hand “had a propensity to request money” in return for supporting rezoning projects.

And a payments of IR£1,000 to the late Sean Gilbride in 1991, was also found to have been made and was corrupt.

The tribunal said unspecified sums were also paid to the late councillor John O’Halloran and these were “improper”. It could not substantiate alleged payments made to the late Jack Larkin or to the late Cyril Gallagher in connection with the rezoning.

While the tribunal was unable to definitively identify all of the beneficial owners of the Jackson Way lands at Carrickmines it was satisfied that John Caldwell and Mr Kennedy were beneficial owners.

Today’s chapter notes Mr Dunlop’s evidence was that as a result of a conversation with Mr Kennedy “he knew that Mr Kennedy expected him to pay money on his behalf to councillors to secure their support for the rezoning of the lands”.

Mr Dunlop and Mr Kennedy first met in January 1991. According to Mr Dunlop’s evidence, he met Mr Kennedy at the latter’s amusement arcade on Westmoreland Street, in Dublin city centre.

The report notes: “The meeting took place in the basement of the arcade which was accessed via a security kiosk and through a steel door which led downstairs to a basement. The premises, according to Mr Dunlop, comprised a kitchen, dining area and a room to the right of the stairs which appeared to be a strong room.”

Some time after their first meeting, Mr Dunlop claimed Mr Kennedy gave him IR£25,000. “This was to be his remuneration for the work he was doing, as well as the fund from which he was to make disbursements to councillors,” the report states. The money was in cash and was contained in cellophane bags using Ulster Bank wrappers.

Mr Dunlop acknowledged that Mr Kennedy was effectively subverting democracy by maintaining that councillors’ voting support could be bought.

The tribunal accepted Mr Dunlop’s evidence that Mr Kennedy told him that he (Mr Kennedy) was aware money would have to be paid to councillors as part of any rezoning campaign in order to secure sufficient councillor support.

“The tribunal also accepted Mr Dunlop’s evidence that a sum of IR£25,000 was duly handed over in the manner outlined by him and for the purposes stated by him. The tribunal was satisfied that it was intended by Mr Kennedy that Mr Dunlop would use all or a portion of the IR£25,000 to make corrupt payments to councillors,” the Planning tribunal chapter concluded.