The Flood Tribunal
1. Liam Lawlor The revelations by spin-doctor Frank Dunlop were the
real turning point for the Flood Tribunal in 2000. Initially, Mr
Dunlop handled the tribunal's question with ease, but after a grilling
by the Tribunal Chairman, when he threatened Mr Dunlop with the
possibility of a spell in prison, he appeared to crack.
In a memorable day for Tribunal stalwarts and the watching public, the
political lobbyist finally appeared to crack. In April, after two and
a half years of legal sparring, the tribunal finally discovered
something people had long suspected. Mr Dunlop admitted that certain
politicians were taking cash for votes on rezoning.
He wrote the names of 15 politicians, who had taken sums ranging from
£500 to £40,000, and he made particular mention to a very powerful, Mr
Big. The journalists were ecstatic and Frank McDonald, the Irish Times
Environment Correspondent, brought in clippings, which referred to
politicians pocketing brown paper bags back in the early 90s.
Liam Lawlor immediately denied that he was the "Mr Big" who pocketed
the most from Dunlop's generous sponsors, but this didn't stop Fianna
Fail from launching an investigation into Mr Lawlor. After a lengthy
grilling by party colleagues, Liam Lawlor ended up leaving the party.
(Fine Gael also launched a set of internal inquiries into the
Mr Lawlor denying any wrongdoing, however, and he promised that he
would reveal all and clear his name at the Flood Tribunal. But he was
not forthcoming, according to the Tribunal, and he made several trips
to both the High Court and the Supreme Court to set the boundaries for
Flood Tribunal's inquiry into his affairs.
Liam Lawlor finally showed up in Dublin Castle on foot of a summons in
November. After many appeals, the courts ordered him to go back before
the Tribunal, to produce documents and to tell, not only about the
Dunlop payments but about many more payments he received. Mr Lawlor
was hardly cowed into submission, but did admit that he had cashed
checks up to £38,000 with a Dublin publican. Mr Lawlor was stood down
as a witness and contempt proceedings against him for refusing to
answer questions are to be heard against him on New Year's Eve.
But in the week before Christmas, a Dublin taxi driver also told the
Flood Tribunal that he holds two nominee accounts in financial
institutions on behalf of Mr Lawlor. The taximan, Mr Long regularly
made cash withdrawals for Liam Lawlor. After a bank official in Lucan
questioned how a taxi man could make lodgements which included a sum
of over £49,000 in November 1998, Mr Long said that Liam Lawlor had
composed a letter for him to give to the bank.
Frank Connolly discusses the possible outcome of this hearing