Public awaits further revelations

POLITICAL reputations will come under the spotlight as the Flood Tribunal resumes its important work of investigating allegations of bribery and corruption in the planning process.

In the aftermath of its explosive interim report, in which Mr Justice Feargus Flood mapped out a web of corruption between disgraced ex-Minister Ray Burke and developers, public interest will now focus on the controversy surrounding the rezoning of lands in south Dublin owned by the mysterious company Jackson Way.

In calling a spade a spade, and attributing blame without fear or favour, Justice Flood has set a benchmark for future tribunal investigations. By publishing his conclusions in clear and uncompromising terms, he has confirmed long-held suspicions of low standards in high places. Not surprisingly, the report is a bestseller.

Until now, statutory inquiries of this kind have generally failed to point the finger of blame at individuals or companies embroiled in a series of controversies. They range from multi-million pound scams exposed at the Beef Tribunal, to the shocking revelations revealed at the Lindsay inquiry into one of the greatest public health debacles in the history of the State, the haemophilia blood-products scandal.

When a similar probe into blood infections was conducted in France, those held responsible went to jail. In the Irish haemophilia tragedy, which has so far claimed 79 lives, the judge did not consider it appropriate to send the report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Given the pattern established by Flood, the public can expect further revelations as the lid is prised from the can of worms that passed for planning in south Dublin.

From next month, the tribunal will begin to apply the acid test to the evidence of star witness Frank Dunlop, lobbyist and former government press secretary. Though the names of politicians and landowners have been in the public domain for some time, that will not detract from the intense public interest in this murky business in which votes were allegedly bought and sold with the aim of influencing the planning process.

Predictably, Mr Dunlop as well as solicitor John Caldwell, one of the ultimate beneficiaries of Jackson Way, which is now at the centre of a 47 million compensation claim, were among those granted limited legal representation. Among local politicians named were four Fianna Fáil councillors, two Fine Gael representatives, and one Independent.

While uncertainty surrounds the role of other figures, including the disgraced ex-TD Liam Lawlor, as a new chapter of the saga opens we can expect other names to emerge.

When the tribunal gets down to the business of unearthing the truth about the planning system, the kernel of its inquiries will focus on the Dunlop allegations.

Given the ground-breaking nature of its work, the decision to appoint other members of the judiciary to the tribunal is long overdue. Any lingering doubts in the public mind concerning the importance of this tribunal have been well and truly dispelled.

The clear-headed and unambiguous judgment handed down by Mr Justice Flood will concentrate minds. Effectively, he has put the onus on politicians and developers at the centre of allegations to prove payments were not corrupt.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence