FF senator ‘forgot about money’

A GOVERNMENT party senator Ann Ormonde admitted to the Mahon Planning Tribunal yesterday she failed to tell a Fianna Fáil party probe she got political donations of nearly £3,000 from Monarch development company.

Former government press secretary Frank Dunlop triggered the internal FF inquiry in 2000 when he admitted bribing councillors to vote on key planning decisions intended to benefit developer clients.

Yesterday, Ms Ormonde said: “Monarch never registered with me.” By the time she got the payment details it was too late for inclusion in the party inquiry and she forgot about the matter.

The tribunal is investigating the rezoning of 236 acres of Monarch lands at Cherrywood in south Dublin during the 1990s. Monarch made payments totalling over £500,000 in that connection; nearly half were in political donations the company listed as expense costs.

Ms Ormonde described herself as “vague” at this stage about matters relating to the controversial Cherrywood rezoning while a member of Dublin Co Council.

Replying to tribunal lawyer Patricia Dillon SC, she agreed she could offer no sound planning or zoning reason for supporting a motion that raised the Monarch lands’ housing density and gave a lower housing density to nearby non-Monarch lands.

She had voted to change the density because it was important everyone in the area would be happy and this was a compromise, she insisted.

Until the tribunal had sent her correspondence, she said she did not know these were Monarch lands. “I was not interested in who owned lands,” she said.

Records show Ms Ormonde met Monarch executive Richard Lynn five times from April 1994 onwards, but she said she had no recollection of any of these meetings.

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