Wednesday 27 May 2009

Some politicians set to face corruption charges

POLITICIANS ARE likely to face corruption charges in relation to the same rezoning decision for which Frank Dunlop was jailed yesterday, according to Garda sources.

Files sent by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) contain recommendations that “a handful” of politicians be prosecuted, The Irish Times has learned.

Dunlop has undertaken to give evidence in any proceedings that are taken if the Director of Public Prosecutions decides there are grounds for prosecutions.

Dunlop will also be a key State witness in the Cab’s efforts to confiscate the Jackson Way lands at Carrickmines in south Dublin. The lands were frozen by court order in 2006. The Cab wants to confiscate and sell the land. The case, which is being fought, is expected to come before the High Court in the near future.

Cab officers have given evidence that the land increased in value by €53 million after it was corruptly rezoned.

That valuation is roughly equal in value to all of the cash and assets taken from gangland criminals since the Cab’s inception in 1996.

Reacting yesterday to the sentence imposed on Dunlop, anti-corruption organisation Transparency International called on the Government to tackle systemic corruption rather than satisfy itself with prosecuting an individual.

Its chief executive, John Devitt, called for the prosecution of all alleged bribe takers where there was sufficient evidence to bring a case.

He also pointed to the need for whistleblower protection and a register of lobbyists to “shine more light” on the role of money on government policy making.

He said corruption was believed to have badly damaged the country’s reputation overseas.

Ireland’s score on the worldwide Corruption Perceptions Index had worsened dramatically in the wake of revelations of corruption at the planning tribunal.

Dublin Lord Mayor and European election candidate Eibhlín Byrne said Dunlop should have been made do community service rather than being jailed.

“He has been found guilty of a serious offence, but by putting him behind bars he will cost the tax payer thousands of euro. He is not what we call ‘a threat to society’ and therefore we should make him pay for his crime by working within the community.”

The Green Party welcomed the 18-month sentence imposed on Dunlop as “fully justified”. “This must not represent the end of this process.

Others who contributed to this situation similarly have to account for their role in planning corruption,” said Senator Deirdre de Burca, who is also a European election candidate.

“I hope that this will be the first of a series of imprisonments for the widespread corruption that poisoned the Irish political system in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Des Peelo, financial adviser to former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, told Newstalk FM the sentence was “actually quite lenient”.

Irish Times

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