Category: Archive

New sleaze charges have pols scrambling to explain

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A new and previously unrecognized level of expertise in property and planning consultancy is emerging among politicians and public servants to explain the substantial sums of money they received from developers and their lobbyists.

With increasing political strains as the sleaze revelations continue, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are both having difficulties with internal inquiries set up after lobbyist Frank Dunlop claimed he distributed his "stash of cash" to buy rezoning votes.

Fianna Fail is still hearing "evidence" from their TDs and councilors and a final decision about what action will be taken is not expected for about two weeks.

In a lengthy statement, Fianna Fail TD Liam Lawlor has denied he sought or received bribes.

He said he received payments from Dunlop but denied he was the lobbyist’s "Mr Big," who received a "contribution" of £40,000. He said, however, that in the 1990s he had numerous discussions with Dunlop and "was a registered consultant."

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"Any dealings I had with Frank Dunlop were conducted on a normal commercial basis," he said.

Fine Gael finished its probe quickly, but the party may face legal action after leader John Bruton said he would not ratify three members about whom his investigators could not reach a definitive conclusion.

Bruton said he would seek to prevent former Seanad Cathaoirleach Senator Liam Cosgrave, and Councilors Cathal Boland and Ann Devitt from standing in a future Dail election unless they provided more information on donations they received. All three denied wrongdoing.

Cosgrave, whose father, Liam, was taoiseach from 1973-77 and whose grandfather W.T. was first president of the executive council of the newly founded State and served from 1922-32, launched a forceful defense of his reputation.

He strongly attacked the way he was treated by the internal party investigation saying he was "astonished" by its conclusions.

"I never took any corrupt payment in respect of any voting decision I was ever going to make or have made in the past," he said. "In my view I was shabbily treated and unfairly treated in relation to how they came to certain findings."

Meanwhile retired Dublin City and County Manager George Redmond, 75, finished the first phase of his evidence to the Flood Tribunal probing allegations of planning corruption.

Some more light was thrown on how he amassed a fortune of over £1 million in 38 bank accounts and he will be returning to face further questioning.

Despite his lack of cooperation, a week-long cross examination resulted in Redmond admitting he got at least £250,000 from builder Tom Brennan since the late 1960s.

It appears he visited the builder’s home about 800 times in all to pick up cash. Brennan had previously said in his evidence that he gave Redmond about £50,000 and said this was winnings from bets he had put on horses on behalf of Redmond.

Redmond has maintained he gave "advice" to people who valued his expertise and the unsolicited money flowed in as a result of his "omnibus consultancy."

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