Gilmartin faces grilling over his allegations

BRITISH-BASED businessman Tom Gilmartin faces tough questioning at the Mahon Tribunal today over his allegations that senior politicians received corrupt payments relating to land rezoning.

His cross-examination follows nearly six weeks of direct evidence by the ailing 72-year-old property developer on the current inquiry relating to a multi-million-pound west Dublin project in the 1990s.

Concerns were expressed about Mr Gilmartin’s health — it emerged he had a quadruple heart bypass operation. He is expected to spend up to another week in the witness box.

Sligo-born Mr Gilmartin alleges Cork-based property developer Owen O’Callaghan — his former business partner in the Quarryvale project now being probed — provided the money used to pay a number of politicians, including Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

But Mr O’Callaghan has strongly denied he paid Mr Ahern £80,000, as alleged.

Mr Gilmartin initially identified the Quarryvale project in the late 1980s. When he got into financial difficulties, he claims he lost control of his company Barkhill Ltd to Mr O’Callaghan.

The two men reached a settlement in May 1996, under which Mr Gilmartin received a gross payment of £8.7 million from Mr O’Callaghan.

Mr Gilmartin’s solicitor Noel Smyth included £150,000, described in the settlement document as “political contributions”, but yesterday Mr Gilmartin said the only such payment he made was £50,000 to former EU commissioner Padraig Flynn.

Today’s cross-examination is likely to be launched by Mr O’Callaghan’s lawyer Paul Sreenan SC.

The tribunal has heard claims that former lobbyist and Fianna Fáil government press secretary Frank Dunlop made corrupt payments totalling nearly £225,000 to 14 politicians to secure the zoning of the Quarryvale development.

Yesterday, Mr Gilmartin also insisted he had been discharged from his 1992 bankruptcy, without paying a penny to Britain’s Inland Revenue, three years later.

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