The Mahon Tribunal: Its Conclusions by Annette J Dunlea
Published In The Carrigdhoun Newspaper 31st March 2012 p.9
The Tribunal of Inquiry Into Certain Planning Matters and Payments, commonly known as the Mahon Tribunal, was a public inquiry in Ireland established by Dáil Éireann in 1997 to investigate allegations of corrupt payments to politicians regarding political decisions.It has mostly investigated planning permissions and land rezoning issues in the 1990s in the Dublin County Council area. Judge Alan P. Mahon chaired the tribunal and its other members were Judge Mary Faherty and Judge Gerald Keys.Fianna Fail desperately tried to contain the damage to the party’s reputation by moving to kick Mr Ahern out of the party.However, the tribunal turned the screw by accusing senior FF ministers when in government of trying to undermine its work with a “sustained and virulent attack”.Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin served in cabinet during the 2007-2008 period when the tribunal claims the then government tried to “collapse its inquiry” into Mr Ahern.
The Tribunal is comprised of the Chairman and Members of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments. Throughout its history, the tribunal has unearthed and investigated many controversies.The key findings were: Bertie Ahern failed to truthfully explain source of money.Pádraig Flynn corruptly sought donation from Gilmartin.Liam Lawlor accepted corrupt payments .Corruption affected ‘every level of Irish political life’.Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern failed to “truthfully” explain source of money. The Tribunal rejects Ahern’s evidence of “dig-outs”. Former EU Commissioner Pádraig Flynn “wrongly and corruptly” sought donation from Tom Gilmartin.Liam Lawlor accepted ‘inappropriate and corrupt payments’ from Arlington PLC.Liam Lawlor’s involvement with developers rendered him “hopelessly compromised”.Owen O’Callaghan paid £1.8 million to Frank Dunlop over 10 years.Former Fianna Fáil TD GV Wright received a IR£5,000 “corrupt” payment from Christopher Jones. Findings of corruption were made against 11 councillors: Fianna Fáil’s Finbarr Hanrahan, Cyril Gallagher and GV Wright, Fine Gael’s Tom Hand, Labour’s John O’Halloran and Independent Pat Dunne. Five cannot be named because they are before the courts.Corruption affected “every level of Irish political life and was allowed to continue unabated”.The current government are to refer the report to Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Revenue Commissioners and to the Standards in Public Office Commission.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government had acted swiftly by referring the report to the relevant authorities.The practice of FF ministers seeking donations from businessmen looking for government support for projects was “an abuse of political power and government authority”.Minister Phil Hogan said:” “Long after the Haughey era, corruption was still rampant within Fianna Fail-led governments.” Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin is to propose a motion to expel former taoiseach Bertie Ahern from the party following the publication of the final report of the Mahon tribunal.The tribunal cost around €250 million, that would have created alot of jobs and eased a lot of poverty in Irland today.
On the positive side, the truth is out. We must learn from this and not allow this kind of behaviour again and there should be no more tribunals but the gardai should investigate it.Gardaí have indicated that the CAB has collected around €19 milion as a result of the inquiry’s work. Revenue Commissioners have said they gathered €32 million.The financial cost of the Mahon Tribunal is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
In March 1999 George Redmond, an employee of local authorities in Dublin, is arrested at Dublin airport by Criminal Assets Bureau – he is found to be carrying £300,000 in cash and drafts. His home had been raided by CAB in February and he was hit for a tax bill of over half a million pounds for undeclared offshore bank accounts. In November 2003 George Redmond is convicted on two counts of corruption for accepting a bribe in relation to a right-of-way at Lucan, but the conviction is later found unsafe in July 2004. By then, Redmond had served much of his one-year sentence and so a retrial was not ordered.In January 2005 Ray Burke serves just over four months in prison for not paying tax on undeclared income. The Flood Tribunal had found that he had been paid this money from backers of Century Radio, which had been awarded a number of radio station and one national station licences.In March 2005 Liam Lawlor admits that he got £350,000 from beef baron Larry Goodman for the purchase of land at Coolamber but denies that he was in any deal for the rezoning of Carrickmines. Lawlor dies in a car crash in Moscow in October of this year.In June 2006 Bailey brothers and Bovale Developments come to a settlement of tax owed to the Revenue Commissioners. It’s thought to have come to €25 million.
In May 2008 Bertie Ahern officially resigns as Taoiseach. He had made the announcement the previous month that he would step down as leader of the country and of the Fianna Fáil party:”It is a matter of real concern to me that the important work of government and party is now being over shadowed by issues relating to me at the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments”,said Bertie Ahern. In March 2012 the Public Accounts Committee said that the cost of the Tribunal was €250 million.The Mahon Tribunal has found that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern failed to truthfully account for over £165,000 lodged in bank accounts connected to him.The Mahon Tribunal has published its final report after 15 years of public hearings involving over 600 witnesses.Corruption affected ‘every level of Irish political life’
Motions to expel Mr Ahern and former minister Padraig Flynn will be put before a special meeting of the party’s national executive on Friday, March 31st.Mr Ahern said :”I note the publication today of the Mahon Tribunal Final Report which are not the findings of a court of law.At the outset, I want to make clear that I have had the great honour and privilege to serve as an elected politician for over 30 years. I have dedicated my life to politics and serving the interest of the Irish people in politics. I have never accepted a bribe or a corrupt payment”.He said he would “never accept” findings by the Mahon tribunal that he failed to give a “truthful account” of his finances and he said he will continue to examine ways to vindicate his name.The Mahon tribunal was the State’s longest running corruption inquiry.