The Mahon Report is a “complete vindication” of Tom Gilmartin after years of attempts to vilify him, his son has said.
Thomas Gilmartin Jnr said seeing his father besmirched by senior politicians, big business and sections of the media had been “a trauma” for the family.
“We’re very pleased that my father has been vindicated after several years of media reports claiming that he was something other than a truthful witness,” Mr Gilmartin Jnr told RTÉ Radio.
“We had several years of being put through a trauma of watching my father being vilified by both national politicians and certain sections of the media, and it really was quite unpleasant for us. And we’re naturally very happy now that the record has been put straight, to some extent at least.”
Mr Gilmartin Jnr said it would be nice if his father now got the credit he deserved for exposing the corruption of people such as lobbyist Frank Dunlop and former minister Pádraig Flynn.
“It would be nice if the record was now corrected and that my father was given the credit that he deserves.”
Mr Gilmartin proved to be the tribunal’s star witness after coming forward to document the corruption he had witnessed in the political and planning processes in the 1980s and 1990s when attempting to progress development projects.
The tribunal found Mr Gilmartin to have been a truthful witness and accepted his evidence over the conflicting accounts of others on numerous key issues.
Mr Gilmartin Jnr confirmed that his father had decided to cooperate with the tribunal after an appearance by Pádraig Flynn on The Late Late Show in 1999.
On that show, Mr Flynn infamously claimed he had never taken corrupt payments and dismissed the claims of Mr Gilmartin as those of someone who was “not well” and “out of sorts”.
After seeing the show, Mr Gilmartin was “very angry” and rang his son that night saying he was going to co-operate. “He took it as a personal sleight,” Mr Gilmartin Jnr said.
The tribunal found Mr Flynn had “wrongfully and corruptly” sought a £50,000 donation for Fianna Fáil from Mr Gilmartin which he then pocketed and used for his own personal use to purchase a farm in Co Mayo.
The tribunal said Mr Gilmartin’s decision to make the donation to Fianna Fáil through Mr Flynn was “misconceived and entirely inappropriate”, but that the developer had done it “in circumstances, which included an element of duress or coercion, where he believed he had no choice but to act accordingly in order to avoid obstructive and improper behaviour on the part of elected public representatives (and a senior public servant) and in order (to use Mr Gilmartin’s own words) to create a ‘level playing field’”.
Speaking yesterday, his son said Mr Gilmartin had alerted gardaí, the government of the day and Dublin council of the corruption but nobody did anything about it. As a result, and in desperation, he had agreed to give a donation to Fianna Fáil — which he notified senior figures in the party about.
“He wanted the corruption to stop, and it didn’t stop. He always refused to pay bribes to anyone. And in the end, in what amounted to extortion, he was told: ‘Well, look, you’ll lose everything or you give money to Fianna Fáil and we’ll make your problems go away with these people.’
“He didn’t want any special favours, he never asked for them, and he just asked that he could do business straightly and honestly without interference from corrupt politicians and corrupt officials obstructing him.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved