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Dublin Report: This month in Ireland: the three Rs "R" us

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By John Kelly

Ireland has been given a crash course in the Three Rs in the last few weeks. There has been a welter of revelations, reconciliations and arguments about regionalization. Each "R" gives us an indication of what we are, where we have been, and just where we might be going in the near future. Only the revelations occasion despair, if not downright disgust.

The reconciliations that have taken place at an absurdly rapid pace engender great hope for the future. Regionalization, on the other hand, has blown up a storm of political bitterness and division.

The revelations bring us back in time, probably as far back as the 1960s. They concern alleged political favors in return for hard cash.

They have all to do with the way Dublin, in particular, has become since.

Although it is the city that is concerned here, you can be quite sure that practices alleged to have been carried out, especially in the north county, commonly occurred throughout the island.

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With an exclusive the Sunday Independent departed from its usual norm. It featured a real hard news story on page one, in a bylined article by Jody Corcoran, the current affairs correspondent. Then, for good measure, it ran a detailed series of allegations in three inside pages to carry long extracts from the affidavit presented to the Flood Tribunal into payments to politicians by James Gogarty.

The former managing director of a construction and development company called Joseph Murphy Structural Engineers Ltd. alleges that no less than £80,000 was handed to Ray Burke, the former minister for justice, during the general election campaign in 1989. The money, he claims, was in anticipation of the sanctioning of planning permission by Dublin County Council for land rezoning in north county Dublin, adjacent to the growing suburb of Swords, where Burke still lives.

Gogarty claims that a developer named as Michael Bailey was prepared to pay £2,000 an acre to get the planning permission for redevelopment of the lands owned by JMSE and that he would then become a 50-50 partner with the company as his "reward" for obtaining it. Naturally, the rezoning would have added millions to the value.

The allegations are not new. They have been trotted around the newsrooms of the national press for years. What was new about the story is that the Sindo published the affidavit that has been presented to the tribunal.

Burke denies all of the allegations. And in his tearful explanation to a packed Dail just before his resignation, he admitted only that he obtained £30,000 from Gogarty acting on behalf of JMSE and that this money, or the bulk of it, he spent on election expenses.

So much for revelations. More astounding allegations will be made as the Flood Tribunal really begins to trundle into the evidence in the coming year. Where would Ireland be without tribunals? A lot less mature in the political sense, that’s where.

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