Key figures: what the tribunal says


The Mahon tribunal today published its findings on a series of key figures in its investigation into allegations of planning corruption. Below are findings on some of those key figures:


Sligo-born developer Tom Gilmartin gave evidence to the planning tribunal “in the honest belief that such evidence was true and accurate”, its report has said.

It upheld many of the allegations made by Mr Gilmartin including that the late Liam Lawlor asked him for IR£100,000 and a 20 per cent stake in his business, and that Cork developer Owen O’Callaghan told Mr Gilmartin he made payments totalling IR£80,000 to former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

It also accepted that former minister Padraig Flynn received IR£50,000 from Mr Gilmartin in April 1989 to “ease or remove obstacles” in relation to one of Mr Gilmartin’s planning developments.

The decision to make the payment was “misconceived and entirely inappropriate” but the tribunal accepted circumstances included “an element of duress or coercion”. And it believed Mr Gilmartin intended the cheque for Fianna Fáil. - Fiona Gartland


The tribunal rejected much of Frank Dunlop's evidence and found he had in excess of £500,0000 at his disposal to pay local politicians between 1990 and 1993, during the drafting of development plans for the Dublin area.

Of this figure, the tribunal found Mr Dunlop made corrupt payments of up to £170,000 to politicians to interfere with the planning process.

However, significant sums of cash remain unaccounted for.

These payments were made on behalf of property developer Owen O’Callaghan to secure councillors’ support for the rezoning of lands at Quarryvale.

Despite his statements to the contrary, the tribunal found Mr 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. - Carl O'Brien


The tribunal found that former minister and EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn "wrongfully and corruptly sought a substantial donation" from developer Tom Gilmartin for Fianna Fáil. Having been paid IR£50,000 by Mr Gilmartin for that purpose, Mr Flynn proceeded to "utilise the money for his personal benefit", the report states.

Part of the IR£50,000 was used to buy a farm in Cloonanass, Co Mayo, in the name of Mr Flynn's wife Dorothy, the report said.

The report says Mr Gilmartin was acting under duress or had been coerced into make the donation and that he felt he had no choice in order to stop elected representatives obstructing his plan for a major shopping centre in west Dublin, now known as Liffey Valley, in the late 1980s. - Steven Carroll


The tribunal found that requests in 1993 from then taoiseach Albert Reynolds and then minister for finance Bertie Ahern seeking substantial donations to Fianna Fáil from developer Owen O’Callaghan were “entirely inappropriate, and was an abuse of political power and government authority”.

At that time, Mr O’Callaghan had been lobbying at Government level for support for a stadium project in Neilstown, Dublin.

On a separate issue, the tribunal said it was satisfied that Mr Reynolds did not receive a £150,000 payment from Mr O’Callaghan in 1994, or on any other occasion. The tribunal also found no evidence that Mr Reynolds had received a £40,000 payment from Mr O'Callaghan in connection with the Golden Island shopping centre development in Athlone.

The tribunal also found no evidence to support a claim that, following a fundraising trip to the US by Mr Reynolds, only a portion of the funds were lodged in the Fianna Fáil account. It had been claimed that the remainder was lodged in offshore accounts in the Dutch Antilles and Liechtenstein.

The tribunal also accepted that Mr Gilmartin suspected that Mr Reynolds had played a role in his difficulties with the UK Revenue, or in leaking it to the media, but said it heard no evidence to suggest this was true.

Nor did it find evidence that Mr Reynolds had blocked tax designation to the Blanchardstown Town Centre project. - Alison Healy


The tribunal found Cork-based developer Owen O’Callaghan personally made or authorised corrupt payments totalling almost £120,000 to politicians for their support.

The tribunal did not accept that Mr O’Callaghan was unaware of the “corrupt” activity of former Fianna Fail lobbyist Frank Dunlop in paying councillors to support the rezoning of Mr O’Callaghan’s development at Quarryvale.

It said Mr O’Callaghan paid money to the late councillor Sean Gilbride, and former councillors GV Wright, John O’Halloran and Colm McGrath to ensure “their continued support and assistance” for the rezoning of Quarryvale between 1992 and 1993.

He also paid the late Liam Lawlor, who was a TD and a councillor, IR£41,000 between 1991 and 1996.

In a statement this afternoon, Mr O’Callaghan said he “utterly” rejects the findings of tribunal and intends to seek their judicial review in the High Court. “The tribunal arrived at its conclusions based on procedures which by any reasonable criteria have been biased, unfair and unjust,” he said. - Fiona Gartland


The Fianna Fáil TD and councillor Liam Lawlor "abused his role" as an elected representative by corruptly selling his influence for financial reward.

His frequent demands for substantial sums of money rendered him “hopelessly compromised”, the tribunal found. He failed on many occasions to give truthful evidence to the tribunal failed on a number of occasions to comply with discovery requests for documents.

"Mr Lawlor, while an elected public representative, 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," the tribunal said. “Mr Lawlor's demands for payments, and his acceptance of money in these circumstances were enitrely inappropriate and were corrupt.”

Among the highest profiles rezoning cases he was involved in was Quarryvale. He received £150,000 between 1991 and 1998 from Frank Dunlop, mostly for his involvement with rezoning land. He also received money totally £41,000 from Owen O’Callaghan between 1991 and 1996.

The tribunal said it was satisfied that complaints made to the Garda by Mr Gilmartin during a 1989 corruption investigation about Lawlor, former assistant county manager George Redmond and Cllr Finbarr Hanrahan were not “thoroughly investigated”.

Mr Lawlor died in a car crash in Russia in 2005. - Carl O'Brien and Steven Carroll


The tribunal report recalls the central role played by former Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke in the establishment of the planning tribunal.

Barrister Colm Mac Eochaidh and Michael Smith, then chairman of An Taisce, placed an anonymous advertisement in The Irish Times in 1995 offering a reward of £10,000 for information on land rezoning corruption that would lead to a conviction.

James Gogarty was among those who responded and he claimed that Mr Burke had received £80,000 from certain developers. Details of the claim emerged in the media and he was forced to resign from his ministerial post. A public outcry followed and the planning tribunal was established in 1997.

Its second interim report found that Mr Burke had sought and received payments and other benefits from certain developers in return for acting in their best interests when performing his public duties.

It also found that he had, while minster for communications, sought and received a substantial cash payment for being available to serve the interests of the promoters of the private radio station Century, and that he had exercised his public powers in their interests. - Alison Healy