Senator ‘did not care who cheques were from’

A FIANNA FÁIL senator under investigation by the Flood Tribunal said he would take money from anybody, with the possible exception of gangsters, in order to get elected.

Senator Don Lydon said he did not care whether cheques came from business people, developers or the Orange Order if it helped him retain his senate and county council seats.

"If it came from maybe The Monk or some gangster, you wouldn't take it," he said but otherwise, he had no problems accepting funds from any source and admitted: "I don't know who I got the money from half the time."

Senator Lydon dismissed suggestions that accepting money from developers could create the perception that his position on planning issues was compromised and that his vote on rezoning motions could be bought.

"There might be a perception but that never bothered me. It never compromised me," he said.

Senator Lydon, a member of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, has been accused by lobbyist Frank Dunlop of accepting a £3,000 bribe for signing a motion to rezone Jackson Way land at Carrickmines in South County Dublin in 1992.

Mr Dunlop claims Senator Lydon wanted £5,000 but agreed on the smaller fee during a meeting in St John of God's Hospital, Stillorgan, Co Dublin where the senator heads the department of psychology.

At his first appearance before the tribunal yesterday, Senator Lydon strenuously denied the claim, saying he received only legitimate political donations from Mr Dunlop £1,000 for the 1993 Seanad elections and £250 for the 1999 local elections.

He claimed Mr Dunlop must be mixing him up with another county councillor, Colm McGrath, when he attributed to him a phone call following the establishment of the tribunal in which he allegedly warned Mr Dunlop that his phone was being tapped.

He described this claim variously as "ridiculous", "off the wall" and "crazy talk". He claimed Mr Dunlop had met Mr McGrath in a car park once and told him he was being followed so his "paranoia" may have confused him.

Senator Lydon also revealed that he received £5,000 for the 1993 election from a man connected with a company for which he proposed a rezoning motion.

The man, whose name was disclosed only to the tribunal judges and senior counsel, was having lunch in the Goat (pub) when Senator Lydon walked in and he told the senator: "I must send you something for the election". Senator Lydon had only met the man once before.

Senator Lydon said the man's company had "owned a place" but it was a different man who asked him to support a rezoning motion relating to the property.

The money was one of two £5,000 donations he received during that campaign. The other came from a friend whose name was also kept private and who had also volunteered the money.

Senator Lydon said he received a total of £14,000-£15,000 in donations for that election, including £2,500 from Monarch Properties and £1,000 from Frank Dunlop.

Explaining why he only ever had to hold one fundraiser in at least seven elections he explained: "I was very fortunate. People gave me a lot of money".

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