Defeated but Dunlop felt obliged to pay £15,000

POLITICAL lobbyist Frank Dunlop felt obliged to pay £15,000 to councillors who had voted in favour of rezoning his client’s property in 1992, despite the fact the rezoning motion was defeated.

Mr Dunlop told the Flood Tribunal yesterday he feared he would never get assistance from councillors again, if he failed to keep his promise of giving them money in return for votes.

The tribunal is investigating allegations that businessman Jim Kennedy gave Mr Dunlop £25,000 to pay councillors to support the rezoning of 108 acres of land owned by Paisley Park in Carrickmines, South Dublin in 1992.

A motion to rezone the lands was defeated 26-24 at a special meeting of Dublin County Council on June 12, 1992.

Yesterday, Mr Dunlop said the late Fianna Fáil councillor Cyril Gallagher had readily agreed to support the Paisley Park motion on the understanding that he would receive a payment of £1,000. He felt obliged to give Cllr Gallagher the money as he wanted to ensure his future assistance and that of other politicians.

“Having discussed it with him there is no way that I would not have fulfilled it. I couldn’t have afforded not to fulfil it,” said Mr Dunlop. “I know that, were that to happen, the word would spread pretty rapidly that, if a promise was given to give a thousand pounds and it wasn't fulfilled, people would not co-operate with me.”

The tribunal heard a current Fianna Fáil councillor, Tony Fox ,was once visited at home by Mr Dunlop and a developer unconnected with Paisley Park. Mr Dunlop said he first discussed the Carrickmines lands with Cllr Fox in 1991. While money was discussed, he was not prepared at that stage to make any payment for supporting Paisley Park because Cllr Fox had already received money from him.

A year later, Cllr Fox sought £2,000 for voting in favour of Paisley Park and Mr Dunlop agreed to pay him that sum in cash. He handed over an envelope containing the money to Cllr Fox as they were walking between the council’s offices and Conway’s pub on Parnell Street.

Mr Dunlop disagreed with Cllr Fox’s claims the only money he ever received from him was two legitimate political donations totalling £1,600.

He claimed another councillor, Colm McGrath, had guaranteed to support the Paisley Park motion on the basis of their existing relationship of money for votes. Mr McGrath, who is a former Fianna Fáil and current councillor from Clondalkin, is widely believed to be the politician who Mr Dunlop once described as “Mr Insatiable”.

“He asked for and I agreed the payment of £2,000 for his specific support and vote,” said Mr Dunlop.

He subsequently gave Cllr McGrath the money in his company’s offices in Clondalkin. Asked to characterise what the payment was, Mr Dunlop replied: “It was an inducement or bribe. Cllr McGrath was in no doubt as to the reason for the payment.”

Cllr McGrath denies ever receiving any money from Mr Dunlop, either directly or indirectly, in relation to the rezoning of the Paisley Park lands.

He claims he received two donations from Mr Dunlop for £500 and £2,000.

Mr Dunlop remembered giving Cllr McGrath £5,000 in May 1999 for the Colm McGrath golf classic. His company was also in receipt of £1,000 from Mr Dunlop’s PR firm in 1992.

The former Government Press Secretary said he had also given £5,000 to the former Labour and Independent councillor John O’Halloran, although he had not voted on the Paisley Park rezoning.

Mr Dunlop said he was approached sometime after 1992 by Cllr O’Halloran who complained that he was getting nothing while other councillors were “coining it.”

Mr Dunlop said he gave not more than £5,000 in small amounts to Cllr O’Halloran during the lifetime of the council's 1993 Development Plan because of his pro-development position on rezoning. He claimed Mr O’Halloran used to describe opponents of such rezonings as “environmental terrorists.”

Meanwhile, one of the owners of Paisley Park/Jackson Way, John Caldwell has given the tribunal an undertaking that he will not remove any of the company’s documentation outside the jurisdiction.

Such a declaration was sought by Tribunal Chairman Mr Justice Feargus Flood on Wednesday after lawyer Stephen Miley said he was no longer representing Jackson Way.

Another of the company's alleged owners, Jim Kennedy, has so far refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

Mr Caldwell has been asked to attend the tribunal as a witness on January 22.

Mr Dunlop will return to give evidence when the tribunal resumes its public hearings after the Christmas holidays on January 21.

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