Monday 19 March 2018

Former lobbyist paid councillors for rezoning of land, trial hears

Declan Brennan

A FORMER political lobbyist has told a court he made cash payments to county councillors to secure their votes for the rezoning of land.

Three former councillors and a sitting councillor have gone on trial accused of receiving corrupt payments in relation to council votes that took place in June 1992 and October 1997.

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

Opening the case for the prosecution at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, senior counsel Sean Gillane told the jury that this was a case about the payment of money for votes.

He said they would hear evidence that Mr Kennedy corruptly gave money to named councillors through political lobbyist Frank Dunlop so that votes could be secured in relation to the rezoning of lands owned by Mr Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy of Cormorant Way, Queens Quay, Gibraltar, has pleaded not guilty 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 McGrath (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 Dublin locations on dates in June 1992 and October 1997 as inducements to rezone lands as industrial.

Mr Dunlop (65) told Mr Gillane that in 1991 he was referred to Mr Kennedy by John Caldwell, from the solicitors firm Binchy and Co, and was told Mr Kennedy had 108 acres of land in Carrickmines. He said a short time later he went to meet Mr Kennedy.

Mr Dunlop said that Mr Kennedy told him he wanted help in having his lands rezoned as part of the 1993 development plan before Dublin County Council.

Mr Dunlop said that, at the time, the land was zoned as agricultural and that the accused told him he wanted it rezoned as residential or industrial.

The witness told the court: "He recognised that to achieve the purposes he desired, councillors would have to be paid money for their services."

He said he agreed to accept IR£25,000 in cash "in full knowledge that a portion of that money would be used to give money to councillors".

Mr Dunlop said it was also agreed that he would be paid a "success fee" of IR£100,000 if the lands were rezoned.

Mr Dunlop said he undertook to lobby councillors to support the rezoning.

He said: "I met a large number of councillors from across parties. Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. I outlined the proposal and sought their support.


"I got indications of support in some instances without reference to money, in others with reference to money."

Mr Dunlop described making cash payments of IR£1,000 to county councillors Sean Kilbridge, Jack Larkin, Cyril Gallagher, all since deceased, in the run-up to and after a council vote on the rezoning proposal on June 12, 1992. He said he paid IR£3,000 to Fine Gael councillor Tom Hand, since deceased, in May 1992.

Mr Dunlop went on to describe making payments to the four former councillors who are on trial. Having been asked a number of times how the payments were made, he told Mr Gillane: "I don't mean to be facetious but there was only one currency. Cash".

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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