Developer ‘paid councillor €20,000’

HOUSEBUILDER Joe Moran yesterday disclosed to the Mahon planning tribunal how he paid €20,000 in 2002 to Fine Gael county councillor Anne Devitt, who helped him get public road access to his lands.

Now a member of Fingal Co Council, in the 1990s she was on the board of the Eastern Health Board which owned land adjoining Mr Moran’s property at Lissenhall, Swords, Co Dublin.

He is majority shareholder in Manor Park Homes, one of the largest house building companies in Dublin.

The tribunal was told Ms Devitt and the late Fianna Fáil councillor Cyril Gallagher signed a motion to rezone 18.5 acres of land owned by Mr Moran’s building company Rayband Ltd from agricultural to industrial use. The land was rezoned on May 21, 1993.

Mr Moran said his company got road access through the EHB property, in return for which Rayband built a day patient care facility and an ambulance centre.

Ms Davitt’s invoice on headed notepaper detailed services she had undertaken for Rayband Ltd. They were listed as “advice, investigation of rights of way, mediation: inclusive of all outgoings.” No VAT was charged.

Mr Moran said Ms Devitt portrayed herself as a person who could resolve the road access problem. She had a reputation for solving problems. That was the reason he had taken her on.

When Judge Gerald Keyes put it to him he was paying a politician to do a job where there would have been potentially a conflict of interest, Mr Moran said he didn’t believe she had done anything wrong.

The judge also asked did it not dawn on him the public perception could be he was trying to “buy” Ms Devitt. Mr Moran said it hadn’t.

Mr Moran paid IR£5,000 to Fianna Fáil after he got a letter, dated December 7, 1993 from Bertie Ahern seeking financial support for the party. Asked about making political payments, Mr Moran said he didn’t recall making one to FF after a meeting with party fundraiser Des Richardson.

During a conversation, former FF minister Ray Burke promised Mr Moran to “put in a word” on his behalf with the Industrial Development Authority in late 1989 concerning possible use of his Lissenhall lands. Mr Moran denied he and his company made representations to Mr Burke.

Before he spoke to Mr Burke, he said he knew there was no hope the lands would be zoned residential. The alternative use was to zone industrial.

Asked about the IR£25,000 paid to Frank Dunlop to lobby councillors to back the rezoning, Mr Moran described the fee as high. Mr Dunlop was to be given half the money initially and the other half when the lands were rezoned.

Mr Moran said his people assured him there was never a question Mr Dunlop had suggested he needed the money to pay councillors.

“I was as surprised as you are that Mr Dunlop did what he did.”

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