Mystery man ‘made Mafia look like monks’

The Mahon Tribunal was unable to identify a mystery man who “made the Mafia look like monks” by demanding a €5m bribe from developer Tom Gilmartin in the ministerial corridors of Leinster House.

The report concluded that the demand was made by a person who approached Mr Gilmartin in a “threatening” manner after he emerged from a meeting with the then taoiseach Charles Haughey and a number of senior ministers in Feb 1989.

The tribunal accepted Mr Gilmartin’s evidence that the man produced a piece of paper with details of an Isle of Man bank account into which €5m was to be paid in return for assistance with the Quarryvale project.

Mr Gilmartin described him as a well-groomed man with “salt and pepper hair” in a “Magee-type tweed jacket” who “grabbed” him by the hand when he tried to walk away.

Days earlier, Mr Gilmartin had received a phone call from Dublin West TD Liam Lawlor, saying the “boss”, meaning Mr Haughey, wanted to meet him.

He recalled meeting Mr Lawlor in Buswells Hotel, across the road from the Dáil, on Feb 1 or 2, 1989.

Mr Lawlor then took him into Leinster House, down a “long hallway” and up a lift until he was brought through “dark oak double doors”.

Around a large rectangular table sat Pádraig Flynn, then the environment minister; beside him was Albert Reynolds, then finance minister, and beside him Gerald Collins, then the justice minister.

Across the table were Bertie Ahern, then labour minister; Brian Lenihan Senior, then tánaiste and foreign affairs minister; and Seamus Brennan, minister of state for commerce.

Mr Gilmartin recalled a man standing behind Mr Brennan whom he did not recognise and was not introduced to.

Mr Haughey, who walked around the room during the meeting, asked “if Liam was looking after me” according to Mr Gilmartin’s account, and complimented him for the Quarryvale and Bachelor’s Walk projects.

Those present at the meeting denied they were there, with Mr Ahern telling the tribunal it was an “utter invention” and Mr Lawlor describing the bribe as “wild, wicked allegations”.

Mary O’Rourke, who entered the meeting briefly, was the exception, with the tribunal finding her account “entirely truthful”.

As he left the room, Mr Gilmartin said he was approached by a man on his right who demanded the bribe. According to his own account, he responded that “you people make the so-and-so Mafia look like monks” to which the unidentified man replied: “You so-and-so could wind up in the Liffey for that statement.”

A number of tribunal witnesses claimed Mr Gilmartin subsequently told them the demand was made by Mr Lawlor. But the tribunal accepted Mr Gilmartin’s own evidence that while he “did see Mr Lawlor standing nearby” the TD “had left the lobby area by the time the encounter had concluded”.

The tribunal said it was “likely” Mr Gilmartin had told others he believed there was a connection between the individual who made the demand and Mr Lawlor.

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