Rabbitte’s return of £2k donation ‘commendable’

The tribunal commended current minister and Labour TD Pat Rabbitte for giving back a £2,000 donation he received from lobbyist Frank Dunlop in 1992.

The Mahon Tribunal also absolved the current Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, (FG), of any role in lobbying for a controversial development project the same year.

However, the inquiry found a third member of the current Dáil, Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell, had accepted an “inappropriate” donation of £500 from Mr Dunlop during the 1992 election campaign.

All three TDs were councillors in Dublin in the year in question.

The tribunal concluded that Mr Dunlop had visited Pat Rabbitte’s home on Nov 11, 1992 — about two weeks prior to the general election — and left a sum totalling £2,000 in an envelope as a political donation.

The following month, the money was returned to Mr Dunlop in the form of a cheque drawn on the account of Democratic Left, the party of which Mr Rabbitte was a member at the time.

“The contribution was returned in circumstances where Cllr Rabbitte and his party colleagues were concerned that it was inappropriate to retain the donation because of the fact that they would, in the course of their role as councillors, be required to exercise their vote on matters in which Mr Dunlop would have an interest. This decision was commendable,” the tribunal said.

But the tribunal was critical of Ms Mitchell for retaining a cash donation from Mr Dunlop.

The inquiry said it was “was satisfied that, as a matter of probability, Cllr Mitchell received a sum of IR£500 from Mr Dunlop at the time of the 1992 general election”.

“At that time Cllr Mitchell had had meetings with Mr Dunlop and [property developer Owen] O’Callaghan in relation to the Quarryvale project, and was a supporter of that project.

“While the available evidence would suggest that Cllr Mitchell herself did not solicit the contribution, she nonetheless accepted it in the knowledge of Mr Dunlop’s close association with the Quarryvale rezoning project. In all those circumstances it was inappropriate for her to have accepted the cash donation.”

In relation to Mr Barrett, the tribunal said he had consistently opposed a development project proposed for Cherrywood by the Monarch property group.

The tribunal heard of allegations made by Philip Monahan of Monarch in 1992 to the effect that Mr Barrett was actually receiving money from the company to lobby his Fine Gael colleagues to support the project.

But the tribunal said it was satisfied these allegations were not true.

“The tribunal was satisfied that Cllr Barrett at the material time was a genuine opponent of Monarch’s proposals to develop the Cherrywood lands and that he did not seek to persuade or influence his fellow Fine Gael councillors to support those proposals in any way.”

 The councillors

Dublin County Councillors — what the report found:

FINBARR HANRAHAN (FF): In late 1989, the tribunal said he solicited a payment of £100,000 to support Owen O’Callaghan and Tom Gilmartin’s plans for Quarryvale. However, no money was paid. In all probability, the tribunal said, he received up to £2,500 in improper donations from Frank Dunlop in relation to Quarryvale.

JOE BURKE (FF): The tribunal could not satisfy itself that in the course of a conversation with Tom Gilmartin, Mr Burke looked for money for either himself or Bertie Ahern. But it said a conversation had taken place.

LIAM T COSGRAVE (FG): The tribunal said he looked for, and was paid, £2,000 in 1991. He received a corrupt payment of £5,000 from Frank Dunlop in 1993. He took another £1,000 to vote for a separate project in Ballycullen and Beechill.

PAT DUNNE (FF): Between May 1991 and Jun 1991, the tribunal said he was paid £15,000 in corrupt payments relating to Quarryvale.

SEAN GILBRIDE (FF): Despite being an employee of Owen O’Callaghan, the tribunal said more than £29,000 he received between 1991 and Apr 1993 was corrupt. It also decided he took payment to back plans at Ballycullen and Beech Hill. And again, a £2,000 sum for rezoning in Drumnigh which was solicited by him.

TOM HAND (FG): Twice in two weeks in Jun 1991 he took payment of £10,000 to support Quarryvale. This was corrupt, the tribunal said. He also solicited, but did not receive, £250,000 from Owen O’Callaghan. He was paid £6,000 between 1991 and 1992 by the backers of the Cherrywood rezoning. And although the tribunal could not link the payments to any decision, it said these were corrupt. He also asked to be paid £2,000 to vote for plans at Ballycullen and Beechill. When he voted for the Pye development in Dundrum, he took £2,000. And a separate £1,000 for helping in the rezoning of Baldoyle.

COLM MCGRATH (FF, later Ind): In 1991 he received a corrupt payment of £10,000 the tribunal said. This, and a £1,000 payment for secretarial services, related to Quarryvale.

He had debts of £10,700 paid by Frank Dunlop, which was corrupt. And in 1993 he took £20,000 from Owen O’Callaghan to support Quarryvale. His secretarial company also billed Mr O’Callaghan for £10,000 to use office space. But the tribunal said this was corrupt. In Cherrywood, the tribunal said he also sought money for voting in favour of the Monarch group’s plans.

JOHN O’HALLORAN (Lab): The tribunal said he let it be known he would support Quarryvale if he was given money. On occasion, he received improper payments of £500. In 1993, he solicited and was paid £5,000 to support the rezoning.

GV WRIGHT (FF): In relation to Quarryvale, he pocketed £2,000 in 1991 and £10,000 in 1992 to back the proposals. The tribunal said he also pocketed £3,000 in corrupt payments as part of a systematic assault by a development company on elected councillors.

He took a corrupt payment of £5,000 for supporting the Ballycullen and Beechill projects and further deals saw him take £2,000 wrapped up in a newspaper in the Leinster House visitors’ bar to back a change of use at Drumnigh.

DON LYDON (FF): At Ballycullen and Beech Hill he was given £9,000 by the developers and this was solicited by him and was corrupt. The tribunal also said he accepted an improper donation from Frank Dunlop to support his re-election when he supported the Quarryvale plan.

Within an 18-month period the tribunal also said he was paid £3,100 to help get land at Cherrywood rezoned. He looked for another £1,000 to back the Pye lands in Dundrum.

TONY FOX (FF, later Ind): The tribunal rejected his evidence and said he accepted a number of payments in the region of £1,000 each to support the rezoning of Cherrywood and St Gerard’s, Bray. These, the tribunal said, were corrupt. It took the same view of the £1,000 he banked for supporting plans at Cloghran and Cargobridge.

CYRIL GALLAGHER (FF): He received a corrupt payment of £1,000 for voting for Lissenhall. The same was said of his acceptance of £1,000 to help rezone land belonging to Cargobridge and again at the neighbouring site in Cloghran. He also took £1,000 for supporting plans in Baldoyle and another £2,000 to lend his weight to the Duff lands.

ANN DEVITT (FG): Worked as a consultant for the developers behind the Lissenhall development and was paid £20,000 for it. The tribunal said this was “entirely inappropriate”.


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