Former FF councillors on trial for corruption

FOUR former Fianna Fáil councillors and businessman Jim Kennedy are to face a criminal trial on charges of planning corruption related to the rezoning of lands in Carrickmines, Co Dublin, during the 1990s.

The three retired politicians and a current member of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, as well as Mr Kennedy, appeared before Dublin District Court yesterday as a result of an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

The four former Dublin County Councillors – Don Lydon, Seán Gilbride, Tony Fox and Colm McGrath – all pleaded not guilty to the charges when arrested and cautioned by CAB officials, the court heard.

Mr Kennedy, a tax exile and owner of an amusement arcade in Dublin, is charged with 16 counts of paying bribes to politicians in return for their support to rezone lands owned by his company, Jackson Way Properties, at Carrickmines in south Dublin.

The charges relate to payments to politicians including the four co-accused, former Fine Gael TD Liam Cosgrave Jnr and deceased councillors Jack Larkin and Cyril Gallagher (both FF) and Tom Hand (FG).

The money was allegedly handed over at locations including a pub, the offices of Dublin County Council, two hotels and the offices of former Government press secretary and political lobbyist Frank Dunlop.

Former FF senator Mr Lydon, Mr Gilbride and Mr McGrath face a single charge of receiving a corrupt payment on various dates in 1992 in return for their vote in favour of rezoning lands at Carrickmines. Mr Fox, now an independent member of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, was charged with five counts of receiving corrupt payments on dates in 1992 and 1997 over the same property.

Judge David McHugh granted bail to all four men on their own bond of €1,000.

Mr Kennedy was remanded in custody with consent to bail after gardaí initially objected to his release and insisted on a number of conditions being met. Judge McHugh ordered a cash lodgement of €30,000 and an independent surety of €50,000 be provided by Mr Kennedy’s wife, Antoinette.

He also ordered Mr Kennedy to surrender his passport, reside at the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge and sign on daily at Donnybrook Garda Station.

Civil proceedings by the CAB against Jackson Way Properties, which began in the High Court earlier this week, were adjourned yesterday pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Mr Kennedy was arrested by CAB officers following his attendance on the first day of the hearing last Tuesday but was later moved to St Vincent’s Hospital after he became ill in custody.

The 63-year-old was discharged from hospital yesterday morning. He was subsequently arrested and brought to Donnybrook Garda Station yesterday before his court appearance.

Mr Dunlop, who served an 18-month prison sentence after being convicted of related planning corruption, is expected to be the main prosecution witness in the trial. Evidence is also expected to deal with issues investigated by the long- running Planning Tribunal which is due to publish its final report shortly.

Picture: Businessman Jim Kenneday pictured outside the High Court in Dublin prior to his arrest earlier this week(Courtpix).

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