The tribunal said the conclusions of a Garda investigation into allegations made by developer Tom Gilmartin in 1989 “were unwarranted” in stating there was no evidence of criminal conduct by either Liam Lawlor TD or the Dublin assistant city and county manager, George Redmond.
Mr Gilmartin had named three people — Mr Lawlor, Mr Redmond and councillor Finbarr Hanrahan — who he alleged made demands for money in relation to his proposed Quarryvale property development.
The Luton-based businessman further claimed that a figure of £100,000 ‘for each man’ had been demanded of him and that there was a separate demand of £5m from an unidentified man.
The Mahon Tribunal was heavily critical of the Garda probe, conducted over 1989 and 1990, by Chief Superintendent Hugh Sreenan and Superintendent Thomas Burns, both since retired. The investigation’s final report said claims by Mr Gilmartin and others against Mr Redmond had been “thoroughly investigated” and that there was “no evidence to suggest” he had committed any crime.
In relation to Mr Lawlor, Supt Burns said “no evidence of criminal conduct” had emerged. He added: “Where verbal allegations have been made, they have been found wanting and Mr Lawlor emerges, as far as I am concerned, with his good reputation unscathed.”
Supt Burns observed: “Gossip and rumour abound in Ireland and many an innocent, defenceless person has had his good name tarnished as a result. Therefore, it was an important part of this enquiry to delve fully into the allegations...
“Mr Liam Lawlor TD emerges from this enquiry with his good reputation unscathed.”
In a hard-hitting critique of the investigation and the report, the tribunal said:
* The complains made by Mr Gilmartin were “not thoroughly investigated” by gardaí.
* Gardaí had sufficient information to conduct a thorough inquiry had they proceeded to interview the individuals named, but neither made or attempted to make contact.
* It believed it was “likely” that Mr Lawlor’s position as a TD was a factor in the decision taken by investigating gardaí not to interview him.
* It was “puzzled” as to why the final garda report went to “such lengths” to exonerate Mr Lawlor and Mr Redmond.
It said Mr Gilmartin’s decision to end contact with the garda inquiry “arose directly” from an intimidatory telephone call from “Garda Burns”.
Mr Gilmartin told the tribunal he had no reason to suspect the call was in fact from Supt Burns or anyone in the Garda inquiry.