Greed made Lawlor ‘hopelessly compromised’ in public duties

The late Fianna Fáil TD Liam Lawlor had an “insatiable appetite for money”, and his methods of obtaining it from developers was “occasionally ingenious”, according to the Mahon Report.

It described how he “abused” his position as an elected representative “to a very significant degree” in order to produce a substantial personal income, often stored or gathered through “secret and devious means”.

His “frequent demands” for money in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, when he was a TD for Dublin West made him “hopelessly compromised in the disinterested performance of his public duties”.

Mr Lawlor, who died in a car accident near Moscow in Oct 2005, was often in conflict with the tribunal over his refusal to co-operate and spent several stints in prison as a result.

He was sensationally described as “Mr Big” during the course of hearings and was central to the tribunal’s investigations into a number of land deals.

It found he operated a “personal business in which he corruptly sold his expertise, knowledge and influence as a councillor and as a TD for personal financial reward”.

Despite exhaustive research, the tribunal said it could only account for half of lodgements over £1,000 totalling £1.4m which were identified in bank accounts controlled by or for the benefit of Mr Lawlor between 1991 and 1997.

It identified about £400,000 in payments made to Mr Lawlor, mostly between 1988 and 1993, from individuals or entities who were subject to enquiry under the modules of Quarryvale, Cherrywood, Balheary, Baldoyle/Pennine and Ballycullen/Beechhill.

While it could not establish the purpose of all payments, it was satisfied the majority were “entirely inappropriate, improper and on occasion corrupt”.

The report focused on £75,000 paid to Mr Lawlor over an 11-month period in 1988 from the development company Arlington, who believed that “he was so close to the government and the authorities in Dublin that a failure to make the payments might result in a lack of support by the government, and those authorities, for the proposed development at Bachelors Walk”.

Mr Lawlor first raised the issue of the development at a meeting with developer Tom Gilmartin at the Deadman Inn pub and not in his constituency clinic as he had claimed.

The tribunal accepted evidence that he visited the Arlington offices in London, uninvited, in May 1988 and claimed to be a representative of the Irish government. One witness said he promised “he could help us through the corridors of power”.

The tribunal was also satisfied that Mr Lawlor had, in a meeting with Mr Gilmartin and the assistant city and county manager George Redmond, corruptly requested payment of £100,000 for himself and a similar amount for Mr Redmond. The request was rejected.

He also asked Mr Gilmartin on two separate occasions for a 20% stake of the Quarryvale project.

The tribunal cleared Mr Lawlor of allegations that he demanded a £5m bribe for Quarryvale planning permission.

It accepted that the “undeniably corrupt” demand was made to lodge the money into an Isle of Man account in the lobby of Leinster House, but it was satisfied that “Mr Lawlor had left the lobby area by the time the encounter had concluded”.

Liam Lawlor: Key findings

* He abused public office.

* He used “secretive and devious means” to receive substantial amounts of money”, including the use of third bank accounts, bogus invoices and presenting offshore funds as loans.

* He received £75,000 from the development company Arlington in 1988-1989 because it believed its project would not go ahead without making the payments.

* He demanded a 20% stake in the Quarryvale project from Tom Gilmartin as well as a £100,000 payment, which was rejected.

* He did not make a demand for €5m bribe to be paid into an Isle of Man account following a meeting in Leinster House.


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