Loan from developer was ‘like a miracle’ – Fred Forsey jnr
THE councillor at the centre of a corrupt payments trial yesterday told a court that receiving tens of thousands of euro from a developer was 'like a miracle'.
Former town councillor Fred Forsey Jnr (43) of Coolagh Road, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, described his relief at receiving the money, saying that he was a 'desperate man' when he got the payment.
Mr Forsey denies receiving a total of €80,000 in corrupt payments from a property developer in 2006.
When asked if he thought that receiving €80,000 from a developer might be seen as "suspicious" by his council colleagues, he replied: "No. . . I was having a lot of financial difficulties."
Denis Vaughan Buckley, prosecuting, asked Mr Forsey if he ever paid the developer "back a cent to this day?" to which he replied: "No".
As Mr Forsey's cross-examination continued, his estranged wife Jenny returned to sit in the courtroom for the first time since she gave evidence last week.
His partner, Karen Morrissey, stayed outside the courtroom for most of the day.
A consultant who worked on the plan to develop farmland outside Dungarvan, told Waterford Circuit Court that money given to the former deputy mayor was "ethically questionable".
Prosecutor Noel Whelan asked the witness: "Would it not, in your view, have been ethically questionable. . . to lend even €80,000 unsecured to the deputy mayor who otherwise had no creditworthiness?"
The consultant replied: "I would say (to the developer), think very carefully about what you're doing. . . because there were tribunals about this at the time all over the country."
The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave evidence of how the land project included an executive residential element.
It was put to him by Mr Whelan that the reason the residential zoning was required was to make the site "more valuable" and it would have "significant tax implications" if executive homes were built on the site.
The consultant agreed that he had organised a "junket" for council officials and members to travel to Sweden to view a renewable energy project as an "educational exercise".
The trip -- planned with a private jet-- did not go ahead as the then Waterford County Manager Ray O'Dwyer did not think it was appropriate, the court heard.
The witness testified that rezoning the land from agricultural to industrial/residential use would have boosted its value by about "four times".
The trial also heard evidence that such a change could increase the land value by up to 10 times.
"I am putting it to you that there was a very strong push on for this development," Mr Whelan said, adding that the ethical standards around it were "loose".
The trial continues.