MAHON Tribunal lawyers yesterday expressed surprise that developer Owen O’Callaghan failed to ask Frank Dunlop if he had made paid bribes on his behalf after the political lobbyist admitted his role in planning corruption.
Tribunal barrister Patricia Dillon said Mr O’Callaghan’s declaration that he didn’t make such an inquiry of Mr Dunlop was “an extraordinary omission”.
Mr Dunlop, a former Government press secretary and PR consultant, confessed to the inquiry in April 2000 that he had been involved in paying bribes to members of Dublin County Council for planning favours.
Mr O’Callaghan said yesterday that he was as surprised as everyone else at Mr Dunlop’s evidence about corruption.
The Cork businessman said he went to visit the consultant at his home in Dunboyne, Co Meath, a short time later and admitted the issue had strained their relationship.
However, he stressed that he had never any conversation with Mr Dunlop about corruption in the period between 1991 and 2000 when the consultant was working for him.
Questioned why he hadn’t asked Mr Dunlop if the payments had been made on his behalf, Mr O’Callaghan replied: “I didn’t think the opportunity was right.”
He added: “It would have been an extremely selfish question to ask and I’m glad I didn’t do it.”
Mr O’Callaghan said that only five politicians in Dublin had ever asked him for money. He insisted that any political contribution he had made was for the purpose of helping to get that person elected.
Liam Lawlor was the first politician to whom he gave money, donating £5,000 to the late TD for an election in June 1991 and two payments of £30,000 between 1993 and 1994 for his assistance on Quarryvale and Neilstown.
Mr O’Callaghan recalled that Mr Lawlor was a very influential person in west Dublin and someone who would habitually seek money.
However, the developer stressed that the money he had paid the controversial TD was “deserved”.
Mr O’Callaghan went on to list seven separate payments he made to councillors, amounting to a total of £107,900.
Mr O’Callaghan said he had given money in all those specific cases because “they were doing something for me”.
He claimed Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe was the only politician to whom he had ever given an unsolicited political donation.
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