By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Sleaze allegations emerging from the long-running Flood Tribunal are again taking center stage in politics with John Bruton issuing a strong denial he had been told that a now dead Fine Gael councilor had solicited a £250,000 bribe in 1992.
Bruton’s statement followed a report that lobbyist and former Fianna Fail press secretary Frank Dunlop will name the late Dublin Councilor Tom Hand as seeking the cash from him in return for a rezoning vote.
Dunlop has already told the tribunal that he was paid £175,000 by developer Owen O’Callaghan between 1991 and 1993 to lobby councilors about the giant Quarryvale development — which is now the Liffey Valley shopping center in west Dublin.
O’Callaghan and London-based, Sligo-born builder Tom Gilmartin are also expected to testify about the development.
During the course of his testimony, Dunlop said he had been approached for payment for supporting the rezoning and he wrote a note with details for High Court judge Feargus Flood.
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The Irish Independent report that Dunlop will also tell the tribunal that he raised the matter with Bruton has caused anger in Fine Gael.
The report claimed Dunlop had documents concerning a foreign bank where Hand wanted the money deposited and he will say he also discussed the demands for cash with two other Fine Gael councilors.
Bruton said the allegations were extremely serious and he was certain the meeting with Dunlop did not happen.
"It is something I would have remembered and would have investigated immediately," he said. "Bribery is a criminal offense."
Bruton also asked why Dunlop had not gone to gardai at the time and why he had not told the tribunal about it at the outset of its investigations.
Dunlop, who served under Jack Lynch and Charles Haughey, has been running a lobbying and public relations business since 1989.
He was closely questioned at the tribunal about what he did with tens of thousands of pounds he brought home after cashing checks for his Quarryvale fees.
Meanwhile, another Flood witness, former Dublin assistant city and county manager George Redmond, 75, was fined £7,500 by the District Court last week for tax offenses dating back more than 10 years.
After being caught last year by the Criminal Assets Bureau at Dublin Airport bringing in almost £300,000 in cash and bank drafts from the Isle of Man, Redmond made a £782,000 settlement with the Revenue Commissioners.
He is now expected to give further crucial evidence at the tribunal about the sources of the money he amassed. He has claimed he was given unsolicited payments for advice.
Before his retirement, Redmond was effectively manager of Dublin county and would have overseen crucial decisions about land services such as roads, sewage, drains and planning.
The Flood Tribunal was set up following the October 1997 resignation of TD Ray Burke as foreign minister.
It is probing back to January 1973 into possible corruption in land dealing involving 726 acres in North Dublin and the circumstances surrounding payments to Burke and other politicians and public officials.