A Fine Gael TD went to the gardaí as a result of a conversation he had with the wife of a party colleague who is now charged with accepting corrupt payments totalling €80,000, a court heard yesterday.
Former town councillor Fred Forsey Jr, aged 42, with an address at Coolagh Rd, Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, has pleaded not guilty to receiving €60,000, €10,000, and €10,000 in three corrupt payments from a property developer in 2006.
Waterford Circuit Court heard at yesterday’s opening of the trial of Mr Forsey that in Apr 2007, Jenny Forsey approached TD John Deasy and, as a result of their conversation, Mr Deasy went to the gardaí and advised Mrs Forsey — the separated wife of Fred Forsey — to do likewise.
Mr Deasy said in evidence that he had been approached by a property developer in the summer of 2006 and asked to support a rezoning of lands outside Dungarvan.
He later met Fred Forsey — then a town councillor — who told him the rezoning could “create hundreds of jobs” for the area.
There were no specifics forthcoming, however, and Mr Deasy thought there was “no substance” to the plan.
“It was my opinion, and it’s still my opinion, that the reason for this was to inflate the price of the land,” he said.
Under cross-examination from John Phelan, defending, Mr Deasy said he wasn’t aware in 2007 that Mr Forsey was, according to Mr Phelan, “residing with another lady”, although he knew there was “a problem” in the Forseys’ marriage.
Mr Deasy said he asked Mr Forsey to relinquish his seat on Dungarvan Town Council because he knew Mr Forsey planned to move to Australia.
Mr Phelan put it to the TD that he rang Mr Forsey and said, “Thanks Fred. If I was you, [I’d know] not to ever come back to Ireland,” and also said “have a good life, goodbye”.
The witness said that wasn’t his recollection.
He agreed that Mr Forsey was “a good councillor” and had “a good media profile”, but said he didn’t feel his own position was in jeopardy from his party colleague.
The payments detailed in the court charges are alleged to have been made as an inducement or reward to Mr Forsey to use his position as a member of Dungarvan Town Council to make representations to officials and members of the county council in support of a planning application made by the developer’s company.
The payments were also allegedly a reward or inducement for him to speak at a meeting of the town council in support of the development, and propose a motion to extend the Dungarvan town boundary to encompass the lands involved in the application.
Opening the case, Denis Vaughan-Buckley, prosecuting, said the Forseys went on a family holiday to Rome in Aug 2006. The date of the first alleged corrupt payment to Mr Forsey, of €60,000, was on the 25th of that month, he said.
Mr Forsey told his wife the developer had put €30,000 in his bank account, the court heard.
The developer cannot be named for legal reasons.
The trial continues today.
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