Monday 19 February 2018

Dunlop 'at loss' to recall alleged £1.25m payment

Jessica Magee

A FORMER political lobbyist said he was "at a loss" to recall a £1.25m payment he allegedly received from a developer.

Frank Dunlop was asked about the alleged payment from developer Sean Mulryan for his part in rezoning lands at Baldoyle Racecourse.

But Mr Dunlop said he couldn't recollect that and said he was "at a loss in relation to the million pounds".

A defence counsel asked him: "You can't forget picking up an odd million here and there?" to laughter from the court.

When asked how many clients had paid him over a million pounds in cheque or equity for lobbying work during the early or late 1990s, Mr Dunlop replied: "One. Owen O'Callaghan," in reference to £1.8m he had received from the developer.

However, Mr Dunlop then agreed that he had been given a 5pc equity stake in the Citywest development, worth between £2.5m and £3m, although he said this had been "substantially diluted" several times.

Mr Dunlop (65) also admitted that he told "big lies about important matters" when he gave evidence to the Flood Tribunal 13 years ago.

He made the admissions during the trial of three former councillors and a sitting councillor, all accused of receiving corrupt payments for votes that took place in the 1990s.

Businessman James Kennedy (66) is charged with making the payments.

Mr Kennedy, of Cormorant Way, Queens Quay, Gibraltar, pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 16 counts of making corrupt payments between June 1992 and October 1997 to members of Dublin County Council to rezone land at Carrickmines as industrial.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county councillor Tony Fox (72) of Mountainview Park, Churchtown, Dublin, and former councillors Colm Mc Grath (56) of Swiftwood, Saggart, Donal Lydon (74) of Santo Antonio, Stillorgan Park Avenue and Liam Cosgrave (57) of Merrion Park, Blackrock, have pleaded not guilty to corruptly receiving money at various locations in Dublin on dates in June 1992 and October 1997 as inducements to rezone lands as industrial.

Sean Gillane, prosecuting, has already told the jury that evidence will be heard that Mr Kennedy corruptly gave money to named councillors through Mr Dunlop.

This was so that votes could be secured in relation to the rezoning of lands owned by Mr Kennedy, the court was told.

Michael O'Higgins, defending Mr Kennedy, suggested that Mr Dunlop was continuing to lie to the jury and tell "a version of the truth" in order to protect the interest of developers who had made him a multi-millionaire. Mr Dunlop replied: "Absolute rubbish."

He agreed that the process of lobbying was not "rocket science".

However, he said he couldn't explain why "hard-nosed developers" would be willing to shower him with millions of pounds.

Mr Dunlop also said the rezoning of lands at Citywest and Baldoyle Racecourse for industrial purposes had been "clean" projects in that he had not bribed anyone to bring them about.

He said he was introduced by the late Liam Lawlor to David Shubotham, one of the partners in Davy Hickey Properties, who wanted to develop land at Newlands in Saggart, which became known as Citywest.

He said the vote to rezone lands at Citywest took place on March 11, 1991, and was the first time he had been involved in lobbying councillors.

Mr Dunlop agreed that Citywest gave him £20,000 in June 1991 for councillors who might have requested it, but denied that it was "dirty money".

"People were entitled to legitimate donations," he said.

Mr O'Higgins then quizzed Mr Dunlop about his involvement in the rezoning of lands at Baldoyle Racecourse, through the shelf company Pennine Holdings he ran in partnership with the late Mr Lawlor.

When asked why he had failed to tell the tribunal that the late Mr Lawlor had been his business partner in Pennine Holdings, Mr Dunlop said that Mr Lawlor's name "wasn't flavour of the month" and agreed it was in fact "pretty toxic".

The corruption trial continues before Judge Mary Ellen Ring.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News