Mahon thanks witnesses, lawyers, media on final day


The chairman of the Planning Tribunal, Judge Alan Mahon, has thanked witnesses, their legal representatives and tribunal staff, as well as members of the public and the media on what he said was effectively the tribunal’s final day of hearing evidence.

The tribunal has been holding public hearings into allegations of planning corruption for the past ten years. It is expected to cost the exchequer in excess of €300 million when third party legal costs are submitted following the publication of its final report some time next year.

The tribunal’s public hearings into the personal finances of the former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, caused huge political controversy last year and led to Mr Ahern resigning earlier than would have otherwise have been the case.

The tribunal’s findings on Mr Ahern’s evidence and other matters will be outlined in the final report.

Judge Mahon, who took over as chairman of the tribunal from its original chairman, Mr Justice Feargus Flood, said the tribunal had since 2002 then heard evidence from more than 400 witnesses, producing more than 60,000 pages of transcripted evidence.

He said more than 76,000 pages of documents had been circulated in briefs to interested parties.

The tribunal heard from Patricia Dillon SC, for the tribunal, that the son of the late Liam Lawlor, Niall Lawlor, has told the tribunal he will not be travelling from the US to give evidence to the tribunal.

The tribunal also heard that the late Mr Lawlor’s wife, Hazel Lawlor, would not be giving evidence as she was not in a position to do so, for medical reasons.

Pat Quinn SC, for the tribunal, read documentation associated with the late Mr Lawlor into the record. It included a statement from Mr Lawlor to the effect that he received £30,000 in political contributions from Declan Ganley’s business, Ganley International, in 1996.

Mr Quinn also said an invoice dated February 1997 from Mr Ganley’s business, with an address at 128 Mount Street, London, was used by Mr Lawlor when providing documentation to cover for a £25,000 payment from the disgraced lobbyist and former Fianna Fáil election agent, Frank Dunlop.

The cheque issued for that amount and made out to Ganley International, was lodged by an associate of Mr Lawlor’s, Patrick Murphy to an account in his name in Lucan, Dublin, and the proceeds given to Mr Lawlor over time.

Evidence taken on commission from the long time associate of Mr Ahern’s, Tim Collins, was also to be read into the record today. Mr Collins’ evidence concerns the Cloghran module of the tribunal’s inquiries.