Saturday 21 April 2018

'I refuse to name judge'

Lobbyist Frank Dunlop arriving at the Mahon Tribunal yesterday. Entries in his diary have been
forensically examined as part of the tribunal investigation
Lobbyist Frank Dunlop arriving at the Mahon Tribunal yesterday. Entries in his diary have been forensically examined as part of the tribunal investigation

Lobbyist Frank Dunlop has refused to divulge the name of a current High Court judge he met in 2000 when the man was seeking appointment to the bench.

"Wild horses will not get me to tell you who that is," Mr Dunlop told the Mahon Tribunal yesterday.

The appointment with the man and top barrister Colm Allen took place in the Davenport Hotel on February 17, 2000, -- two months before Mr Dunlop admitted at the planning tribunal that he had bribed politicians in return for their vote on re-zonings in Dublin.

Some entries in Mr Dunlop's diaries which he obliterated have been forensically examined by the tribunal as part of its probe of the lobbyist's account of people he dealt with over several years when he worked for developers. But the entry relating to the judge remains intact and Mr Dunlop said yesterday it had absolutely nothing to do with the planning inquiry.

Identify

The entry reads "Colm A + ANO, Davenport", and when pressed by tribunal counsel Patricia Dillon to identify ANO, Mr Dunlop said he would not.

"It has nothing to do with the remit of the tribunal, this was a gentleman seeking appointment to the High Court which he subsequently was [given]," Mr Dunlop said. Another entry in his diary, on April 28, 2000, almost three weeks after he began giving evidence in public to the tribunal reads "T@home", but Mr Dunlop insists this does not relate to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. He used the capital T to denote meetings with taoisigh but said this meeting was not with Mr Ahern.

"I have not spoken to Bertie Ahern for nigh on eight years, he was never in my home, I don't know who this was, but it wasn't the current taoiseach" he added.

On his working relationship with developer Owen O'Callaghan, Mr Dunlop said Mr O'Callaghan never asked him directly if he bribed politicians in relation to the re-zoning of Quarryvale.

As the planning probe began demanding full disclosure in 1999 from the former lobbyist about his financial affairs, both he and Mr O'Callaghan continued to meet regularly.

Mr Dunlop told the tribunal that at no stage in their meetings did Mr O'Callaghan ever seek assurances from him that he had never made improper payments to politicians.

He said that throughout 1999, when the tribunal continued to press him to comply with the orders for discovery, Mr O'Callaghan was paying his legal fees and continuing to pay him his monthly retainer of IR£5,000 for Quarryvale work.

He had discussed the communications he had got from the tribunal with Mr O'Callaghan but had never shown him any documentation.

The former government press secretary said he did not tell the tribunal about several of his bank accounts, including an offshore account in Jersey and his " war chest " account in Rathfarnham, when he was asked to make full disclosure.

But the following year the AIB told the tribunal about six accounts which Mr Dunlop failed to disclose, including his "war chest" account, and he now felt he had to tell the planning inquiry about them.

However he still didn't reveal his offshore account, or another account he held with the Bank of Ireland for his company Shefran, or an account he had with the Irish Nationwide Building Society.

Affairs

The tribunal had begun to inquire into his financial affairs in 1999 at the time when the tribunal was in public session with the Gogarty module.

"There was a certain scepticism on the part of some people about where the tribunal was going. I bought into the notion that we were into entertainment par excellence and we were just wondering how long it would last," Mr Dunlop said.

He added that he had planned to take a table at " ertie's fundraiser" the annual fundraising event for Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at Kilmainham in December 1999.

"I think there was a consciousness on my part that it would be better if I didn't appear, as it was now public knowledge that I was being investigated by the tribunal," he said.

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