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Mahon: Liam Lawlor “hopelessly compromised” by payments from developers

The 25-year TD “conducted a personal business” where he sold his influence for personal reward, the Mahon Tribunal finds.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE MAHON TRIBUNAL’S final report has concluded that former TD Liam Lawlor effectively “conducted a personal business” where he sold his influence and experience for his own personal gain.

The final report, published this morning, found that Lawlor had “abused his role as an elected public representative [...] to a very significant degree” while he was a councillor until 1991, and while he was a TD between 1977 and 2002.

The Tribunal’s report unequivocally confirms:

In effect, Mr Lawlor, while an elected public representative, conducted a personal business in the course of which he corruptly sold his expertise, knowledge and influence as a councillor and as a TD for personal financial reward.

The findings are the first formal findings of corruption on the part of Lawlor; the former Fianna Fáil TD, who resigned from the party in 2000 and who quit politics in 2002, had only previously been convicted on three occasions of contempt of court for failing to follow High Court orders compelling him to co-operate with the Tribunal’s work.

In its final report, the Tribunal states that Lawlor provided services and advice to landowners and developers – including to Frank Dunlop, who acted as their agent – in exchange for personal gain.

Any occasions where developers paid Lawlor for his “consultancy” services in relation to the rezoning or his development of his land were “not simply to have the benefit of his undoubted knowledge of the planning process”, but also for “the influence which he undoubtedly exerted over councillors, both as a councillor and an TD”.

‘Frequent demands’

Any such payments were also “to allay their concern that a failure to engage with Mr Lawlor in this manner might result in a failure to have their property rezoned, or otherwise dealt with advantageously in the course of the planning process”.

These relationships – and his “frequent” demands for substantial monetary payments from those people in the late 1980s and 1990s – “rendered Mr Lawlor hopelessly compromised” in the performance of his public duties.

“The Tribunal also noted Mr Lawlor’s propensity to use false and fictitious names and/or invoices to facilitate many of these substantial payments,” the report notes.

In one major example, the Tribunal declares its satisfaction that Lawlor was paid IR£41,000 between 1991 and 1996 by developer Owen O’Callaghan, who facilitated another IR£40,000 payment to Lawlor in mid 1991.

Lawlor had not provided a “true account” of his relationship to the Tribunal, including his financial relationship in relation to the Quarryvale development project which later became the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.

It adds:

The Tribunal was satisfied that the relationship between Mr Lawlor on one hand, and Messrs O’Callaghan and Dunlop on the other hand, was one firmly based on corruption.

Lawlor was killed in 2005 when he was involved in a car accident in Moscow. He never faced any corruption charges.

In 2002 he was memorably temporarily released from Mountjoy Prison to attend a Dáil debate urging him to resign as a TD.

Read: Corrupt payments to councillors were ‘abuse of democratic system’ – Mahon >

More: Mahon Tribunal final report published – Here are its recommendations

In full: Our coverage of the Mahon Tribunal report >

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Gavan Reilly

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