Dunlop to be sentenced for planning bribes

Former Government press secretary Frank Dunlop will be sentenced today for bribing councillors to rezone land for development.

Former Government press secretary Frank Dunlop will be sentenced today for bribing councillors to rezone land for development.

The former lobbyist faces up to seven years in jail and/or a €50,000 fine for five counts of corruption in the 1990s.

The 62-year-old, of Dunboyne, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to making payments of between IR£1,000 and IR£3,000 to several politicians to re-zone swathes of land around Dublin for development.

The case was brought more than eight years after Dunlop first revealed his involvement in corruption at the Flood Tribunal, the long-running inquiry which investigated allegations of payments being made in connection with planning matters.

He later admitted to Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) officers that he handed money over to politicians at different locations in Dublin, including Buswell’s and Davenport hotels, both a short walk from the Dáil, and St John of God’s Hospital.

Former senators Don Lydon, of Fianna Fáil, and Liam Cosgrave, of Fine Gael, and Fianna Fáil councillors Sean Gilbride, Tony Fox, and Colm McGrath are among those named on the charge sheet.

All have denied any wrongdoing.

In January Dunlop – who had been charged with 16 counts of bribing Dublin county councillors – pleaded guilty to five sample counts of corruption. The other 11 are to be taken into consideration.

Judge Frank O’Donnell who heard Dunlop’s sentencing hearing last week adjourned the case until today to consider the evidence.

A CAB officer revealed while around 60 people have been interviewed in relation to the corruption allegations, the former Government press secretary is the only person to admit any wrongdoing.

He told gardai he was given cash on behalf of landowners in return for bribing councillors.

The defendant has also agreed to give evidence in court against any named councillors if charges are brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court also heard Dunlop suffered severe heart problems caused by stress and has had no life since he came clean about planning corruption nine years ago.

Colm Allen – Dunlop’s senior counsel when the lobbyist revealed at the Flood Tribunal that he passed on bribes to councillors in 1992 and 1997 – maintained that since the day Dunlop decided to “face his demons and tell the truth” he had become a social pariah.

He said while many people thought Dunlop could not suffer enough, he believed he had visited upon himself a life sentence.

“The purpose of the inquiry was to seek the truth and to seek evidence to establish one way or another whether there was corruption in the planning system,” said Mr Allen.

“As soon as he has done what was demanded of him, he has descended even lower in the public esteem.

“This man can go nowhere. He has no real life.”

Dunlop’s barrister, Aidan Redmond SC, claimed his client had already been punished beyond all manner of means and appealed to the judge not to impose a custodial sentence.

He said the defendant, who ran his own public relations firm, has lost his friends, business and has not worked since his admissions.

More in this section