Saturday 25 November 2017

€80k 'loan' was for councillor to buy land, court told

Conor Kane

A DEVELOPER accused of making €80,000 in corrupt payments to a politician told gardai he loaned the then-councillor money to help him with the purchase of two properties.

Developer Michael Ryan (60), pictured, with addresses at Al Eile Stud, Dungarvan, Co Waterford and The Sweepstakes, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, denies making three corrupt payments totalling €80,000 to former Fine Gael town councillor Fred Forsey Jnr in 2006.

He told gardai he loaned money to Mr Forsey who later "disappeared" when Mr Ryan was trying to get the money back.

The payments are alleged by the State to have been made in relation to a 32-hectare piece of land outside Dungarvan which Mr Ryan wanted rezoned from agricultural use to industrial and residential use.

The second day of evidence in the trial at Waterford Circuit Court heard from retired county manager Ray O'Dwyer that he was aware in 2006 that "there was significant pressure put on the elected representatives around the application" for planning permission.

Fine Gael county councillor Lola O'Sullivan said she was asked by Mr Forsey in 2006 to attend a meeting in Tramore with the developers of the land and thought that all the other councillors from the area would be present.

But, in the event, the only other councillors present were Tom Higgins from Dungarvan and Mr Forsey himself.

Councillor John Carey, also of Fine Gael, said he became "suspicious" when asked to attend that meeting in Tramore, because of the venue.

"Fine Gael would never meet in O'Shea's Hotel," he said, a comment which provoked laughter in the courtroom.

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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