O’Callaghan: Inquiry had devastating effect on family

CORK developer Owen O’Callaghan has claimed his long-running dealings with the Mahon Tribunal over the past decade has had a devastating effect on himself and his family.

The millionaire businessman yesterday rejected allegations made by another developer, Tom Gilmartin, that he paid bribes to TDs and councillors for their support of a number of his major developments.

In his final appearance after 39 days in the witness box, Mr O’Callaghan denied all claims that he made corrupt payments to leading politicians including former taoisigh, Bertie Ahern and Albert Reynolds, and former minister, Ray MacSharry.

Mr Gilmartin made a series of allegations about Mr O’Callaghan, including that the Rochestown-based developer had paid £80,000 to Bertie Ahern for his help in blocking the development of a rival shopping centre. Mr Gilmartin said that Mr O’Callaghan had informed him of the background to some of these allegations.

Mr O’Callaghan, however, said he never said anything to Mr Gilmartin, his business partner in the development of the shopping centre, that would have led him to believe that any of the allegations had actually happened.

Asked by counsel Paul Sreenan about the effect of his involvement with the inquiry on himself and his family, Mr O’Callaghan replied: “Well, in one word... devastating.”

Mr O’Callaghan admitted he was well known as a strong supporter of Fianna Fáil, although he had never been a party member. He also agreed that his support was not confined to Fianna Fáil as he had made contributions to other parties.

He was totally unaware that his PR consultant, Frank Dunlop, had paid bribes to councillors for their support on Quarryvale in the early 1990s until Mr Dunlop had confessed to such payments at the tribunal in April 2000.

He rejected any suggestion that he had got the late Charles Haughey to alter the location of the Lee Tunnel in Cork to suit the development of his Mahon Point shopping centre. Mr O’Callaghan admitted that it had been changed to facilitate the shopping centre but he had “nothing to do with it”.

The inquiry, which has sat for 915 days since it began in November 1997, is expected to complete its public hearings next week. Its report is unlikely to be published before late 2009.

More in this section