Flood warns Fox to 'consider' his evidence

 

Flood Tribunal: Fianna Fáil councillor Mr Tony Fox could be facing prosecution for not co-operating with the tribunal after being warned by Mr Justice Flood yesterday to "consider" his evidence, writes Paul Cullen

The chairman asked how Mr Fox could possibly justify voting to rezone Jackson Way's lands at Carrickmines in south Dublin in 1997 against the advice of planners.

What benefit had he conferred on anyone but the owner of the lands, he asked.

He invited the witness to consider the situation over the weekend.

Mr Fox thus joins Mr Ray Burke, Mr George Redmond, Mr Frank Dunlop, Mr Liam Lawlor and others whom the chairman has invited to reflect on their evidence.

Mr Fox signed two motions proposing the rezoning of all of Jackson Way's land in 1997; although the motions were unsuccessful, he voted for another motion that resulted in part of the company's land being rezoned.

Planners opposed the rezoning, pointing out that the land had no sewerage connections and no access before the South-Eastern motorway was built.

Yesterday, he argued there was a shortage of industrial land in the area. It took time for rezoned land to "come to fruition".

Asked whether he was aware that the rezoning would greatly add to the cost of the motorway, for which rezoned land had to be acquired, he replied: "Not really".

Mr Dunlop alleges he paid Mr Fox £5,000 in return for his vote on the Jackson Way rezoning; Mr Fox said this was "untrue . . . it never happened".

Earlier, the tribunal heard that Mr Fox signed a motion to fix the line of the motorway in a manner advantageous to Monarch Properties, six months before he received a political donation from the property company.

The motion he put forward in May 1992 proposed pushing the route of the motorway further south, ostensibly to facilitate the creation of a public golf course.

However, the proposal would have ensured the golf course could not have gone ahead because it would have been divided by the motorway.

In contrast, large amounts of land owned by Monarch, Jackson Way and other landowners would have been opened up for rezoning.

In January 1993, Monarch made a contribution of £1,000 to Mr Fox. He also received £600 from the company in 1991. Neither payment was disclosed to a Fianna Fáil inquiry into planning payments in 2000.

Mr Dunlop has told the tribunal that former Fianna Fáil TD Mr Liam Lawlor was behind the strategy to fix the line of the motorway in this way.

However, Mr Fox said the text of the motion was supplied to him by representatives of Monarch. He didn't know who actually drafted it, but Mr Dunlop had "no hand, act or part" in preparing the motion.

Judge Alan Mahon asked the witness was he not surprised that a substantial property company was involved in proposing a motion to facilitate a golf course. Did he not think the reason was that Monarch wanted to increase the value of its own property? Mr Fox said he didn't.

Judge Mahon asked Mr Fox if he was still saying there was no link between the motion and the payment he got from Monarch."Absolutely," he replied.