Monday 25 September 2017

Developer denies payments were corrupt

Conor Kane

A developer told detectives investigating payments to a councillor that allegations he had "instructed" the politician to get a piece of land rezoned were "bullshit," a court heard.

Michael Ryan told gardai after he was arrested that he was aware former Fine Gael councillor Fred Forsey Jnr "spoke to people" about a project Mr Ryan wanted to develop, but denied he was lobbying on his behalf.

The trial at Waterford Circuit Court heard Mr Ryan was arrested by Det Sgt Shay Keevans at Dungarvan Shopping Centre on August 16, 2009.

He was later interviewed several times by detectives investigating payments totalling €80,000 that Mr Ryan made in 2006 to Mr Forsey.

Mr Ryan, of Ballsbridge, Dublin, denies making corrupt payments to Mr Forsey.

The money is alleged to have been a reward or inducement for Mr Forsey to use his influence to try to get a 32-hectare piece of land outside Dungarvan rezoned from agricultural to industrial and residential use.

PROFIT

After he lent Mr Forsey a total of €80,000 in 2006, he said he did not hear from him between 2007, when the former politician went Australia, and the week before his arrest, when Mr Forsey rang him.

"He told me he didn't have the money to pay me back and that it was (Fine Gael TD) John Deasy who made the allegations," said Mr Ryan.

Asked why he gave Mr Forsey €80,000 in 2006, he said Mr Forsey told him he was buying two properties in Dungarvan and would repay the money when he sold them. He never got the money back, he said, and tried to contact Mr Forsey in 2007, but he was in Australia.

Mr Ryan expected to make about €4.3m profit if the land deal went ahead, but a rezoning that was passed by the county council in 2008 was later reversed by then-environment minister John Gormley.

Asked by detectives why Mr Gormley made that decision, Mr Ryan said: "One rumour is that John Deasy went to the minister. The other rumour is that the county manager went to the minister."

The prosecution case has closed and the trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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