1 August 2013.
A tribunal headed by Judge Alan Mahon found that several Dublin county councillors received corrupt payments in exchange for their votes to rezone lands in the south of the county. The tribunal was set up to investigate the rezoning of around 130 acres of land at Carrickmines in South Dublin.
The councillors involved include the four men at the centre of a corruption trial which collapsed last week. The corruption trial involving businessman Jim Kennedy, a councillor and two former councillors collapsed due to the illness of former lobbyist Frank Dunlop. Dunlop was suffering from a serious heart condition that is unlikely to improve sufficiently to allow him to continue giving evidence or to give evidence in the future. Prosecution decided not to pursue the case.
The final module of the Mahon Tribunal report was withheld because of fears that it might adversely affect criminal proceedings against the people involved. But it was released to the public after the collapse of the trial. The released report says:
“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.
Mr Dunlop alleged he paid former Fianna Fáil councillor Don Lydon IR£3,000 in 1992. In released 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.
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.
The report also noted that another land owner in Carrickmines, Brian O’Halloran, offered a political donation of £250 to Fianna Fáil councillor Betty Coffey at a fund raising event. Councillor Coffey told him this amount was not sufficient and he later paid another £1000. Councillor Coffey argued that she did not personally benefit from the donation as it was passed on to the constituency organisation.
But the tribunal noted that it was “satisfied that Councillor Coffey’s insistence that Mr O’Halloran’s offer of a donation of £250 in March 1996 was insufficient was improper and served to compromise Councillor Coffey’s disinterested performance of her duties as a councillor”. Ms Coffey also admitted receiving a donation from Frank Dunlop.
Mr Kennedy and Mr Caldwell obtained a map showing information that planners were considering zoning the Carrickmines lands as industrial. The information contained in the map prompted them to buy the land in Carrickmines.