Former press secretary gave £30,000 for votes

FRANK Dunlop has told the Flood Tribunal he paid a total of £30,000 to nine past and present councillors in Dublin in return for their votes on controversial rezoning motions relating to lands in south Dublin during the 1990s.

The former government press secretary claims he paid £20,000 in bribes to nine councillors between 1991 and 1993 on behalf of Paisley Park Investments the Isle of Man-registered company which owned 108 acres of land at Carrickmines, Co Dublin.

He also paid out another £10,000 to two councillors in 1997 after they had asked for money in return for their support on another rezoning motion for the same site. The property was then owned by another offshore firm, Jackson Way Properties following the liquidation of Paisley Park.

Mr Dunlop said the money had been provided by both companies in the full knowledge that payments would be made to elected officials "to achieve their support".

Tribunal barrister John Gallagher SC yesterday revealed the full list of councillors who were allegedly in receipt of money by Mr Dunlop.

According to the PR consultant, a total of £20,000 was paid out on behalf of Paisley Park to the following councillors:

£5,000 to John O'Halloran (Ind).

£3,000 each to Tom Hand (deceased, FG) and Senator Don Lydon (FF).

£2,000 each to Cllr Tony Fox (FF), Cllr Colm McGrath (Ind) and Cllr Liam Cosgrave (FG).

£1,000 each to Seán Gilbride (FF), Jack Larkin (deceased, FF) and Cyril Gallagher (deceased, FF).

Senator Lydon and Mr Hand were signatories to a motion to rezone the Paisley Park lands "to provide a high quality job-creation base" which was defeated by two votes in June 1992.

Another related motion which was subsequently proposed by Mr Fox and seconded by Mr Hand was never put to a vote.

Mr Dunlop told the tribunal it had proven a very controversial vote because the property was close to another contentious development at Cherrywood and also because of the suspicions the then Fianna Fáil TD, Liam Lawlor was involved in the project.

Mr Dunlop claimed he paid a further £5,000 each to Mr Fox and Mr Cosgrave after they had requested money for their support on another rezoning motion in 1997 when ownership of the land had switched to Jackson Way.

Earlier, the tribunal heard Mr Dunlop had come to know a significant number of elected members of political parties, in particular in Dublin, through his role as Government press secretary and PR consultant.

He claimed a nexus of of councillors from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and certainIndependent councillors existed in Dublin Co Council who offered their support and votes on land rezonings in return for cash.

Mr Dunlop said he did not invent such a system and he believed it had predated his involvement in planning matters.

"I was confronted by it and co-operated with it in the full knowledge that it was the only way development could take place," said Mr Dunlop.

He also stated that such a system persisted after the break-up of Dublin Co Council into three separate administrative areas in 1994.

Mr Dunlop said many payments to politicians were made at times when local and general elections were in the offing.

"An upcoming election was a helpful coincidence in facilitating a payment under the guise of an election contribution," said Mr Dunlop.

The tribunal also heard the owner of another property adjacent to the Jackson Way site, Brian O'Halloran, had paid £30,000 to Mr Dunlop as a fee for advice on planning.

Although Mr Dunlop gave £2,000 of this to Mr Cosgrave, he stressed Mr O'Halloran had not intended any of this sum would go to politicians.

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