Lawlor ‘central to bribes’

FORMER Government Press Secretary, Frank Dunlop has claimed Liam Lawlor played a central role in efforts to bribe politicians to support a controversial planning issue in 1992.

The Flood Tribunal is investigating allegations that businessman, Jim Kennedy, paid Mr Dunlop £25,000 to bribe councillors in return for their votes to rezone lands in south Dublin owned by offshore company, Paisley Park. It has also heard claims that Mr Lawlor had a beneficial interest in the company, although this has been denied by the former Fianna Fáil TD.

Mr Dunlop told the tribunal yesterday that he understood from his initial meeting with Mr Kennedy about the Carrickmines lands that paying money to councillors would be “a key element”. He claimed Mr Lawlor was the first person to say to him that councillors would have to be paid in order to get the motion passed by the council.

Mr Dunlop recalled being given £25,000 in cash in cellophane bags at a meeting in Mr Kennedy’s office in Westmoreland Street in 1991. He also said Mr Kennedy told him at a subsequent meeting that Mr Lawlor had an interest in the Carrickmines lands. Mr Kennedy explained to Mr Dunlop that he had advised the former Dublin West TD how to register his interest in the property in Liechtenstein.

The matter arose because both men were surprised when Mr Lawlor was one of only two Fianna Fáil councillors to vote in support of a motion proposed by Dublin Co Council’s manager in June 1991 which restricted future development of lands in the general Carrickmines area.

“I never had a satisfactory explanation for that,” Mr Dunlop said. Mr Lawlor’s vote proved crucial in the successful passing of the motion by 21 votes to 19. Mr Dunlop said the TD reassured them that there would be another opportunity to rezone the property at a later date.

The PR consultant said he would have met regularly with quite a number of Fianna Fáil councillors at the time to discuss Paisley Park as well as other proposed rezonings. He remembered that Cllr Don Lydon (FF) and Cllr Liam Cosgrave (FG) were among a number of councillors who expressed serious reservations about supporting the Paisley Park rezoning because of local opposition.

Nevertheless, Sean Gilbride (FF), Jack Larkin (FF), Cyril Gallagher (FF), Tony Fox (FF), Colm McGrath (FF) and Tom Hand (FG) all indicated their support for the proposal. All eight councillors have been accused of taking bribes from Mr Dunlop.

The political lobbyist said the other beneficial owner of Paisley Park, John Caldwell, showed no interest in the details of arranging the support of councillors.

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