Frugal life may explain Gallagher’s funds, tribunal hears

A TEMPERATE and frugal lifestyle may explain the late Fianna Fáil councillor Cyril Gallagher’s substantial funds, the Mahon planning tribunal heard yesterday.

On his death in 2000, his assets included £60,000 in a previously undisclosed post office account.

Former lobbyist Frank Dunlop alleged he paid a £1,000 bribe to Mr Gallagher to vote in favour of rezoning lands at Lissenhall, Swords, Co Dublin.

Mr Gallagher proposed the rezoning motion. The land was rezoned in May 1993.

Earlier this month, the tribunal wrote to Mr Gallagher’s family asking about nine sums totalling £5,216 lodged between March and July 1993 in his AIB and Ulster Bank accounts. It also wanted information about three lodgments totalling £5,000 in Mr Gallagher’s An Post account. All the money was lodged between March and July 1993.

Through their solicitor Thomas Montgomery, Mr Gallagher’s family say they have no knowledge how the money being queried came to be available to him.

“It is my understanding that Mr Gallagher lived a very frugal life,” Mr Montgomery said yesterday.

In a tribunal questionnaire, Mr Gallagher said he held no post office account.

Mr Montgomery said Mr Gallagher, a former Eircom technician, had a reasonable amount of money saved from his salary and pension. He had been in receipt of substantial payments from Eircom in 1992 and the council during the 1990s.

The payments the tribunal required an explanation for greatly exceeded the amount Mr Dunlop alleged he gave to Mr Gallagher. Mr Montgomery said he realised this could pose the question as to whether Mr Gallagher was getting donations from somebody else.

He said the amount invested in the post office account was actually £39,500 and the £60,000 represented the maturity value.

Tribunal chairman Judge Alan Mahon explained the tribunal - in the Lissenhall module - had an interest in £5,000 of Mr Gallagher’s post office money.

Barrister Patrick Russell said he and former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds got involved in 1997 in an unsuccessful move to buy the Lissenhall lands.

Mr Russell said he approached Mr Reynolds about becoming involved in property deals in Dublin, Liverpool and Derry but none came to fruition.

Tribunal lawyers say documentation it discovered shows Mr Russell and Mr Reynolds were the principals behind Universal Management Consultants Ltd (UMC). This offshore company based in Jersey was to be used to buy the Lissenhall lands. The deal fell through when the owner said they were not for sale.

Although the documents showed him to be a UMC director and shareholder, Mr Russell said he never was. But he believed Mr Reynolds to be the beneficial owner of the company.

UMC ran up a £60,000 overdraft in its Dublin bank account, Mr Russell said. Mr Reynolds, who covered out of pocket expenses associated with their Lissenhall venture, paid the overdraft.

Mr Reynolds is expected to give evidence next week.

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