O'Callaghan: Tribunal procedures 'biased, unfair and unjust'

Developer Owen O’Callaghan did claim to have “taken care of” ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in return for a promised favour, the Mahon tribunal has found.

Developer Owen O’Callaghan did claim to have “taken care of” ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in return for a promised favour, the Mahon tribunal has found.

Developer Owen O’Callaghan has said he utterly rejected the findings and will be seeking a judicial review in the High Court.

The inquiry also concluded the “fact” Mr O’Callaghan revealed the information to broadcaster Eamon Dunphy corroborated similar allegations by another developer.

“The tribunal arrived at its conclusions based on procedures which by any reasonable criteria have been biased, unfair and unjust,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

Mr O’Callaghan said the inquiry had failed to subject its “star witness” Mr Gilmartin to even cursory examination but rather protected and mentored him.

Mr O’Callaghan admitted having “taken care of” then Finance Minister Mr Ahern in 1994 so he would secure a tax designation for his Golden Island development in Athlone, Mr Dunphy said in sworn evidence to the inquiry.

Another developer. Tom Gilmartin. testified that his former business partner Mr O’Callaghan said he paid Mr Ahern IR£80,000 to secure the Liffey Valley shopping centre site, then known as Quarryvale, in west Dublin.

In its final report, it said the purpose of its trawl through Mr Ahern’s finances was to either establish or rule out whether substantial sums of money paid into his accounts, or accounts linked to him, were connected to Mr O’Callaghan.

The tribunal has backed both Mr Dunphy’s and Mr Gilmartin’s evidence.

The broadcaster reasonably took Mr O’Callaghan to mean that he gave Mr Ahern an inducement, he gave inducements to other politicians and that he found it necessary to engage in corrupt activity to carry out business in Dublin, the report found.

Mr O’Callaghan’s revelations which “implied or inferred” that he had “corruptly paid money to Mr Ahern” were “corroborative” of Mr Gilmartin’s evidence, the tribunal said.

But the inquiry could not prove that any such payments had actually been made to the former Taoiseach.

The tribunal said its inquiries were regrettably “rendered inconclusive”.

“Because the tribunal has been unable to identify the true sources of the funds in question, it could not therefore determine whether or not the payment to Mr Ahern of all or any of the funds in question were in fact made, or initiated or arranged, directly or indirectly by Mr O’Callaghan, or by any other identifiable third party or third parties,” it states.

The report concludes: “Much of the explanation provided by Mr Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds identified and inquired into in the course of the tribunal’s public hearings was deemed by the tribunal to have been untrue.”

Mr Ahern’s spokesman said he is reviewing the final report of the Mahon Tribunal and will issue a statement in due course.

“In the meantime there is no comment,” he added.

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