Saturday 23 September 2017

Dearbhail McDonald: Dunlop tells how 'Jackson Way plan hatched in basement of city arcade'

CARRICKMINES, Dublin's "happy valley," was once dubbed the southside's Phoenix Park.

But if the testimony of former lobbyist Frank Dunlop is to be believed, the battle to secure rezoning of lands at Carrickmines in the 1990s is a less than happy tale.

Yesterday Dunlop described in clinical terms how he allegedly elicited support from Dublin- based councillors to vote on motions to rezone lands in south Co Dublin known as the 'Jackson Way' lands.

Opening the case, senior counsel Sean Gillane said it was the prosecution's case that businessman James Kennedy paid money through Mr Dunlop to councillors, claims that Mr Kennedy denies.

Dunlop, the chief witness for the State in the trial of five men accused of giving or receiving corrupt payments in relation to the rezoning of lands was emphatic about the nature of the alleged "money for votes" transactions.

When asked how the payments were made, Mr Dunlop replied: "Cash. I don't want to be facetious but there was only one currency: cash".

The retired lobbyist explained his modus operandi.

He spoke with "stalwarts of the Fianna Fail party", and tried to garner cross-party support from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

Meeting Labour councillors, Mr Dunlop told Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court, was "a futile exercise".

As well as Mr Kennedy, three former politicians and a serving councillor are also on trial accused of corruption, charges which they all deny.

Mr Dunlop detailed how the alleged corrupt payments plan was hatched in 1991 in the basement of Mr Kennedy's arcade on Westmoreland Street in Dublin.

The lobbyist claimed he was retained by Mr Kennedy to secure rezoning of the land, receiving an Irl£25,000 cash payment to be used to pay councillors to vote in favour of the rezoning.

This vote was narrowly defeated, but Mr Dunlop says he was back working on behalf of Mr Kennedy five years later after Dublin City Council had been split into three.

This time, Mr Dunlop said that Mr Kennedy would not pay any more money but agreed to give him an acre of rezoned land as a success fee.

Mr Dunlop said he gave former Fine Gael TD (then councillor) Liam Cosgrave (57) a total of £7,000 for the two Carrickmines votes.

He said Independent councillor Tony Fox (72), also got £7,000 for both votes.

Former Fianna Fail councillor Colm McGrath (56), got £2,000 for the first vote.

And former councillor Don Lydon (74) got £3,000 for the first vote, the court heard.

All the defendants deny the charges.

Irish Independent

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