SLIGO-born developer Tom Gilmartin described yesterday how he planned a “special” development for west Dublin in the early 1990s.
Instead of a shopping centre — which emerged from the Quarryvale project — he envisaged a new town on the site, Mr Gilmartin told the Mahon Tribunal.
“My role was not to make a fortune,” said the 72-year-old Luton-based developer. “It was to create something special in the area.”
Mr Gilmartin alleges he was put under pressure by AIB Bank to give over control of the north Clondalkin project he had initiated to his former business partner, Cork-based developer Owen O’Callaghan. The partnership between the two developers later ended in bitterness.
During his evidence on the Quarryvale module yesterday — his fourth week in the witness box — Mr Gilmartin said had he been able to fulfil his plans he would have built “an entirely different type of development” there.
He said he had envisaged the scheme incorporating a Garda station, health centre, library and civic offices as well as a bus station and free bus services.
“I was invited by Dublin Corporation and the Government to set up this scheme. I was not there to make a killing — but I’m a fool I suppose.
“The scheme I set about doing, which was applauded by the Government, showed what could be done,” he said.
Asked about a series of payments which went out of Barkhill (a company founded by Mr Gilmartin but later effectively controlled by Mr O’Callaghan) he told tribunal lawyer Pat Quinn SC he would have queried any unusual round figures in the accounts. “I had a gut feeling corrupt payments were being made,” he added.
He also told how he had been advised to have nothing to do with political lobbyist Frank Dunlop, a former Fianna Fáil government press secretary.
In 2000, Mr Dunlop became the whistleblower on planning corruption in the Dublin area when he admitted giving bribes to county councillors and other politicians to secure land rezoning.
The tribunal has heard claims Mr Dunlop made corrupt payments totalling nearly £225,000 to 14 politicians to secure the Quarryvale rezoning.
Tribunal chairman Judge Alan Mahon interjected when Mr Gilmartin described Mr Dunlop as “a bagman and a scumbag”. The chairman said: “There is no need to refer to anyone as a scumbag.”