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Corrupt Dunlop back in jail after festive release

Corrupt former Government press secretary Frank Dunlop is back behind bars after spending Christmas at home with his family.

The disgraced spin doctor returned to Arbour Hill prison following a brief stay with his wife Sheila and daughter Sinead at their Co Meath home.

Sheila Dunlop refused to discuss her husband's temporary release when the Herald called to the family home in Rathbeggan, just outside Dunboyne.

Festive

When questioned, she waved her hand and said "bye, bye" before ushering their dog back inside and quickly shutting the front door.

Mrs Dunlop had collected her husband when the jailed lobbyist emerged from Arbour Hill grinning and clutching presents on Christmas Eve.

He was one of 176 prisoners let out for the festive season.

Some 167 have since returned and of the nine still outstanding, none are high-profile prisoners.

It is not known exactly how long Dunlop (62) spent at home, but most prisoners were due back before last weekend.

The periods of release for prisoners varies from a few hours to up to seven nights and all releases are subject to stringent conditions.

Softest

Dunlop has so far served just seven months of his two-year sentence for bribery of councillors to rezone land in Dublin.

Jail sources have said the public relations expert had been a model prisoner and they were happy for him to spend Christmas at home.

Arbour Hill is widely regarded as the softest jail within the Irish prison system.

Dunlop was sentenced to two years and fined €30,000 after he admitted in court that he attempted to bribe councillors to rezone lands in Carrickmines.

Judge Frank O'Donnell said the public interest required a custodial sentence for Dunlop but suspended the last six months of the sentence in light of his admissions before the court and the planning tribunal.

With remission, it is expected he will serve just over a year.

Dunlop pleaded guilty to giving IR£3,000 to former Fianna Fail Senator Don Lydon, IR£2,000 to Fianna Fail councillor Colm McGrath and IR£1,000 to Fianna Fail councillor Sean Gilbride in 1992.

He also pleaded guilty to giving money to former Fine Gael senator Liam Cosgrave and Fianna Fail councillor Tony Fox in relation to sites at Carrickmines in 1997.

Gratuity

Dunlop is entitled to a €2.35 daily standard gratuity at Arbour Hill and is currently in a single cell, confirm sources.

According to an Irish Prison Service spokesman, gardai have been notified about the nine prisoners who have not yet returned.

aphelan@herald.ie


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