Burke corruption to be probed

RAY Burke's period as chairman of Dublin Co Council will be examined in the next stage of the Flood Tribunal after its findings that the former minister received corrupt payments in the late 1980s.

The planning inquiry is also likely to focus on the role of the Fianna Fáil chief whip on the council, Pat Dunne, widely regarded as Mr Burke's right-hand man on the local authority.

"Burke and Dunne had Dublin in the grasp of their hand when it came to planning," a former councillor said.

"It will be interesting to see what will emerge when the tribunal looks at the planning history of other controversial developments."

Although Mr Burke ceased to serve on the council after he was chairman between 1985 and 1987, the tribunal has heard evidence that he still had power to control the vote of Fianna Fáil members on the council.

Mr Justice Feargus Flood found that Mr Burke had been paid £30,000 by James Gogarty on behalf of JMSE in June 1989 "to ensure his support and his influence over others".

However, the tribunal was unable to establish what precise action Mr Burke took in return for payments totalling £160,000 he received from close friends, property developers Tom Brennan and Joe McGowan.

Given the conclusive findings that Mr Burke was corrupt, the tribunal will examine what other payments, if any, the former Fianna Fáil member might have obtained in return for planning favours.

More than 100 past and serving members of Dublin Co Council who have supplied statements to the tribunal will face questioning about the role of Mr Burke and Mr Dunne in the organisation of votes on planning matters.

Mr Dunne, a shop-owner from Portmarnock, Co Dublin, served on the council for several decades until his death in 1992.

"Pat was centrally involved in ensuring that there was always a sufficient majority of members in the chamber to vote for any motions on controversial developments," another councilor said yesterday.

Former Dublin Co Council assistant manager George Redmond told gardaí that he had received £10,000 from Mr Dunne, whom he understood was acting on behalf of a property developer.

However, Mr Redmond later denied this claim during an appearance in the witness box at the tribunal.

Mr Dunne's name also featured prominently in a diary kept Mr Redmond which was seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau three years ago.

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