Wright ‘was paid £2,000 to rezone land’

FRANK Dunlop claims he paid Fianna Fáil TD GV Wright £2,000 to help rezone agricultural land which later sold for millions.

The former political lobbyist told the Planning Tribunal he gave the money wrapped in a newspaper to Mr Wright in the visitors' bar of Leinster House in March or April 1993 after the then senator and Dublin county councillor requested payment for signing a rezoning motion.

The rezoning of land at Drumnigh, Portmarnock in north County Dublin was one of the most contentious motions passed by Dublin County Council during the county development plan review of 1990-1993 and prompted 2,530 public objections.

Mr Wright who was recently the subject of controversy after he admitted running over a pedestrian while drunk driving denies receiving any such payment. However, he acknowledges a political donation of £3,000 he says he got from Mr Dunlop in October 1993.

Mr Dunlop told the first day of a new phase of the tribunal that he paid four councillors in return for signatures on the motion to rezone lands owned by Denis Mahony and Noel Fox. He said Mr Mahony contacted him on the suggestion of Mr Wright.

He said he got £10,000 from Mr Mahony and Mr Fox and paid £1,000 each to now deceased Fianna Fail councillors Jack Larkin and Cyril Gallagher and £2,000 each to Mr Wright and former Fianna Fáil councillor Sean Gilbride.

Mr Gilbride denies this and both Mr Larkin and Mr Gallagher made general replies to the tribunal prior to their deaths stating they knew of no planning related payments.

Mr Fox withdrew his portion of the land, which included a green belt section as well as agricultural land, from the rezoning motion prior to the vote on April 28th but Mr Mahony's land was rezoned as low density residential.

The land, which he bought in 1981 for £190,000 was sold in 2000 for £13.5 million. He will tell the tribunal he believed the £10,000 paid to Mr Dunlop was a professional fee.

Earlier, Judge Mahon ruled to defer a decision on whether Liam Lawlor should have to pay tribunal costs estimated at €100,000 until such time as an interim or final report of its findings was made.

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