Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Cash for votes scandal exposed

Ex-Government Press Secretary Frank Dunlop, who made corrupt payments to city councillors in a cash for votes scandal

A former Irish Government press secretary made corrupt payments to city councillors on behalf of a businessman in a cash for votes scandal, a State inquiry has found.

The Mahon Tribunal, which investigated bribes for planning favours, said Frank Dunlop paid off several elected representatives in order to rezone lands along Dublin's M50 motorway for developer Jim Kennedy.

Politicians named and shamed for taking money in return for their support include ex-Fine Gael councillor and son of a former Taoiseach, Liam T Cosgrove, and former Fianna Fail Senator Don Lydon.

Ex-Fianna Fail councillors Colm McGrath and Tony Fox, now a sitting Independent councillor, were also found to have taken corrupt payments between 1992 and 1997.

The late Fine Gael councillor Tom Hand and the late Fianna Fail councillor Sean Gilbride were also paid off in return for voting to rezone the lands at Carrickmines in south Dublin, the tribunal concluded.

The findings were withheld from the publication of the inquiry's final report last year because it was feared it might prejudice a criminal trial into the corruption.

But that case collapsed last week when Dunlop said he was too ill to give evidence.

Dunlop, a former Fianna Fail press secretary who turned lobbyist in the 1990s, has served 14 months in jail for corruption over the rezoning scandal.

The Mahon Tribunal said it is satisfied that Gibraltar-based businessman Jim Kennedy, now a British citizen after renouncing his Irish citizenship a decade ago, intended for Dunlop to use IR£25,000 to pay off councillors.

The tribunal also found that former Labour councillor John O'Halloran took IR£500 in cash, a cheque for IR£250 and other small sums in the region of IR£500 each from Dunlop in the early 1990s. It could not determine which developments the payments related to but found O'Halloran solicited and accepted the money improperly.

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