Ex-politicians and businessman face charges in connection with land deal

Four former Fianna Fáil politicians and a Gibraltar-based businessman tonight appeared in court in connection with a multimillion-euro land deal alleged to be corrupt.

Four former Fianna Fáil politicians and a Gibraltar-based businessman tonight appeared in court in connection with a multimillion-euro land deal alleged to be corrupt.

Former Senator Don Lydon, former councillors Sean Gilbride and Colm McGrath and now Independent Tony Fox appeared at an evening sitting of Dublin District Court.

Jim Kennedy, who was treated for heart trouble after his arrest on Tuesday, faced six charges of paying off politicians in order to rezone land.

Gardaí told the court they have wanted to question the businessman, now a British citizen after renouncing his Irish citizenship in 2002, for eight years.

The five were all alleged to have been part of a cash-for-votes scandal which led to more than 100 acres of prime land in south county Dublin being rezoned in the 1990s.

The charges follow a marathon investigation into the €53m hike in land prices at Carrickmines.

The lands were frozen by the Criminal Assets Bureau in 2005.

At the time, then CAB chief Felix McKenna said it was believed corrupt payments to county councillors secured the rezoning from agricultural to industrial use.

Former government press secretary Frank Dunlop, who was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to corruption, was accused of brokering the deal.

Kennedy, dressed in a dark suit and red tie, was charged with handing over cash in June 1992 in Dunlop’s Upper Mount Street office to secure councillors’ votes on the Carrickmines site.

The charge sheet stated that the cash was handed over as a “gift” to induce a corrupt vote.

The 56-year-old with an address at Cormorant Way, Queens Quay in Gibraltar, was charged with giving former city councillor Tom Hand money in May 1992 to get his vote to rezone 108 acres at Carrickmines.

He was also charged with handing over money in Conway’s Public House, Parnell Street the following month. This cash was allegedly given to Jack Larkin, a former Dublin City councillor, to secure another vote on the same land.

Kennedy was alleged to have followed that by giving money in June 1992 to then city councillor Liam Cosgrave for a vote on the 108 acres and again in October 1997 at the Davenport Hotel for a vote on 36 acres being voted on by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

He was also accused of handing over money in May 1992 at St John of God’s Hospital.

Fox, aged 70, from Mountainview Park, Churchtown, was charged with taking money three times in the Davenport Hotel in late 1997 to vote in favour of rezoning two large blocks of land 36 acres and 88 acres at Carrickmines during a vote in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council.

He was also charged with taking money to vote for the rezoning of 108 acres at Carrickmines while Dublin County councillor in 1992.

Lydon, aged 82, from San Antonio, Stillorgan Park Avenue, Dublin, was charged with taking money in May 1992 at St John of God’s to rezone 108 acres in Carrickmines.

McGrath, aged 54, from Swiftford, Saggart, Co Dublin was charged with taking money in June 1992 in his Clondalkin office to rezone the same land.

Gilbride, aged 69, from Greenlawns, Skerries, was charged with taking money in Frank Dunlop’s offices in June 1992. He is also alleged to have taken the cash in return for a Dublin County Council vote to rezone Carrickmines.

None of the amounts of the allegedly corrupt payments were revealed in court.

The politicians were remanded on bail on their own bond of €1,000 until next Thursday.

Kennedy was remanded in custody with consent to bail to Cloverhill Prison until Tuesday. The court was told he had given an address in Hanover Terrace in the City of London during questioning and gardaí believe he has links to Switzerland, the Canary Islands and the Isle of Man.

Judge David McHugh imposed bail conditions including a €30,000 cash lodgement and an independent surety of €50,000 on Kennedy.

Kennedy was also ordered to reside at apartment five, fourth floor, in the Four Seasons Hotel, Ballsbridge and surrender his passport.

He was also told to sign on daily at Donnybrook garda station.

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