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'Corruption is alive and well in Irish politics' - Dunne


Ben Dunne

Ben Dunne

Ben Dunne

Businessman Ben Dunne has declared corruption is still alive and well in Irish politics.

The outspoken entrepreneur told The Sunday Independent that despite years of costly tribunals there is "no question" in his mind that it still continues in the current climate.

The Dunnes Stores heir, whose attempt to influence Michael Lowry to increase the rent on his Marlborough House building in central Dublin was found to be "profoundly corrupt" by the Moriarty tribunal -- a finding which he strongly disputes -- says the only difference the tribunal made is that politicians no longer ask him for money.

"The one thing the tribunal has done is stopped politicians asking me for money, but not other people. I still believe it does go on.

"No doubt about it. No question," he added.

"If corruption happens on a smaller scale -- it's fair to assume it goes on."

On whether he bought into the school of thought that a little corruption is good for business, the 63-year-old multi-millionaire replied: "Well my father used to say, 'people in the stores need to feel it, steal it, or buy it'.

"You have to give them the three options, and the secret lies in how to get most of them to buy it, not to steal it, and not to feel it.

"A little bit is never good -- but I still think a little bit of corruption is always going to go on."

On his continuing relationship with Tipperary TD Michael Lowry, he said: "I would talk to Lowry, yes. We meet. Sometimes we bump into one another."

Commenting on the furore that the Tipperary politician has caused over his meeting with Environment Minister Phil Hogan, Mr Dunne said: "Ah, for God's sake.

"Look, they all know one another. Business is within business hours and outside of business hours, you know . . . I mean God forbid, if something happened [to] Michael Lowry all of these politicians would stand up and say what a great man he was.

"Even when Haughey died, everyone who disliked him intensely, they all had a few nice words to say about him.

"And there's Bertie Ahern who is being ostracised at the moment, God forbid, but his day will come too and they'll all stand up and speak highly of him.

"There's a thing you have to remember here, we have to think about realism.

"This idea of giving the right message, the worst thing in the world to be is to be naive. And Lowry is elected to represent a constituency down in Tipperary, and if his constituents want something he has the very same right to meet a minister as any other TD.

"Lowry has been hammered for 15 years and he has gone through the whole lot and it has taken its toll, it has to have. But taking everything into account, he has dealt with it very well. He's kept his seat in the Dail -- and that shows a bit of talent."