AS TRIBUNALS go the interim report by Flood into planning corruption is extremely hard hitting and leaves nothing to the imagination.
The report didn’t necessarily raise anything that we didn’t already know or suspect but the fact that it condemned Ray Burke so categorically is to be welcomed.
What it reveals is a man who for 25 years built up the facade that he was a politician serving the interests of the people of Dublin North when in reality he was serving the interests of himself and the developers and builders who bankrolled his political career.
In 1973, he received possession of a house – "Briargate" on the Malahide road in Swords in a "corrupt payment" so that he would act in the best interest of the company Oakpark Developments.
Between 1982 and 1985 alone Burke received Â£160,000 stg from various builders including Brennan and Mc Gowan which were corrupt payments.
In 1989, he received IRÂ£35,000 (€100,000 at today’s value) for his assistance in setting up the now defunct private radio station Century Radio.
In 1989 also he received between IRÂ£30,000 and IRÂ£80,000 from JMSE to secure his co-operation and his influence over other politicians to alter the planning status of lands owned by JMSE in North Dublin.
As a result of Burke’s corruption hundreds of families live in overpriced housing in an area bereft of any infrastructure, facilities or proper finishing of their estates, thanks to poor rezoning decisions and the free march of speculators and developers.
The great-unanswered question of course is why despite warnings from people in his own party including Albert Reynolds did Bertie Ahern appoint Ray Burke to the cabinet in 1997 given the serious questions about his past political funding. What is also very clear is that despite previous assertions to the contrary, Ahern did very little to get to the truth of Burke’s corrupt activities. It is incredible that despite being "up every tree" in North Dublin that Ahern could not find a single thing to indicate that Burke was corrupt.
Fianna Fail are attempting to distance themselves from Burke as they did with Haughey, Lawlor and others but it just doesn’t wash. What Flood and other tribunal reports indicate clearly is that far from having one or two bad apples, corruption was rife in Fianna Fail at least from the mid 70’s until the 1990’s.
Indeed to confirm this, the Flood Tribunal will now move on to investigate alleged payments to Liam Lawlor, Padraig Flynn and Dublin North TD G.V. Wright from Frank Dunlop and Tom Gilmartin.
Frank Dunlop is expected to confirm that he gave G.V.Wright donations totalling IRÂ£10,000 between 1991 and 1993. Wright also held a senior position on Dublin County Council at a time when a number of the key developments being investigated by Flood were rezoned.
This article was printed in the November 2002 issue of the Voice, socialist newspaper of the Socialist Party in Ireland.
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