By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN –The evidence of the Flood Tribunal’s star witness in its investigation into allegations of possible corruption surrounding land deals and planning matters in North Dublin has been leaked to the media in a move that has angered people named in it and caused concern to the government.
Initial claims by James Gogarty, a former building company executive, that he had handed over £30,000 to Fianna Fail TD Ray Burke at his home in 1989 ultimately led to the former Foreign Minister’s resignation and the establishment of the tribunal.
Burke denied any wrongdoing in connection with the payment, which he said was a political donation.
It has since emerged that a further £30,000 was given to Burke by a Fitzwilton subsidiary.
The tribunal has been given extended powers to investigate allegations of corruption dating back to 1973.
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Earlier this month, the tribunal decided to put back public hearing of evidence by Gogarty, 81, until Jan 12.
Lawyers for people against whom accusations are made by Gogarty in the document described its contents as "scandalous," "outrageous" and "scabrous" but they will not have the chance of formally rebut them until public hearings begin.
It had been planned to hear the elderly witness’s evidence this month, but the lawyers complained that they had not received Gogarty’s affidavit until Oct. 20 and hadn’t had sufficient time to prepare a defense.
The leaking of the document to the Sunday Independent has angered people against whom claims were made, as no evidence is offered to substantiate the claims. They had already complained to the tribunal chairman Judge Feargus Flood about leaks.
A Garda investigation of the leaks has been sought and the government have expressed concern about "developments that could undermine" the work of the tribunal.
Those on the receiving end of his allegations were expected to strongly attack Gogarty’s evidence when the public tribunal hearings begin.
In his affidavit, Gogarty now claims a total of £80,000 was handed over to Burke at his home. Burke has denied receiving anything more than the £30,000 for election and political expenses.
He also names a former senior Dublin County Council official who he claims received substantial payments from a developer.
He claims that a bullet was fired into his home and he got late-night threatening phone calls.
Gogarty claims that he resigned as managing director of the development company following IRA threats and demands for protection money during the construction of the ESB’s generating station at Moneypoint, Co. Clare, and he later had a falling out with the company about his pension scheme.