Gardai send file to DPP on allegations of fraud and bribery against Fine Gael councillor
Gardai have sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) following an investigation into allegations of fraud and bribery made against a prominent Fine Gael councillor.
The FG councillor, who has close links to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, has been accused of offering to help secure planning permission for another councillor, in exchange for stopping an investigation into the appointment of a senior local authority official.
The investigation centres on a 30-minute conversation between the two councillors, which was secretly recorded before being passed to gardai.
Gardai reviewed the tape, along with other material provided by the councillor, who claims he was approached, before compiling a file for the DPP.
The two councillors and officials from the local authority involved were also questioned by gardai as part of the 11-month investigation.
If the explosive allegations are proved to be true, it will raise serious concerns for Mr Kenny and his party.
When the Sunday Independent first revealed the allegations, there was fear within the senior ranks of Fine Gael that the investigation could prove embarrassing in the lead-up to the general election. However, it is unlikely that the DPP will make a ruling before the country goes to the polls in early spring.
It is understood the investigation has caused unease among the elected members of the local authority.
Meanwhile, it is understood that the councillor who contacted gardai in November also lodged a complaint with the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).
He also sought to highlight what he believes to be serious wrongdoing among his fellow councillors and with the management of the local authority that he represents.
The county councillor claims he was approached by the Fine Gael councillor after he made a series of inquiries into the promotion of a candidate to a senior position within the local authority.
He alleges that the Fine Gael politician told him he would help him secure planning permission for a business that he hoped to develop if he stopped looking into the appointment. He was also told that a local authority figure was willing to assist if he ceased his investigation.
The county councillor was told he could not put his name on the planning permission application because it would raise suspicions.
It was suggested that he should put someone else's name on the application when applying, so it would go unnoticed by the other councillors and local authority staff.
The Fine Gael councillor proposed putting a Fianna Fáil councillor's name on the planning application.
Over the course of some weeks, the county councillor began recording conversations with the Fine Gael councillor, as he believed the offer to be corrupt.
In a recorded conversation, which has been heard by the Sunday Independent, the Fine Gael councillor is heard saying that the senior local authority official wants the planning permission applied for under a different name.
"There's two things, he said, 'He can't put in the application in his own name'," he says in the recording. "In fact, he said if you can put the land in someone else's name, it would be better and he said, 'I'll do it'."
The councillor asks: "So I have to dispose of the land to someone else? To get someone else, a prospective buyer?"
"Exactly, and you stay away from hell from it," the Fine Gael councillor responded.
The Fine Gael councillor and the local authority figures have denied any wrongdoing.