Dempsey and Fitzpatrick

I was interested to note the following:

On June 13, 2002, it was reported that outgoing Minister for the Environment Noel Dempsey made his appointments to the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. The appointments were:

Lar Bradshsaw (Re-appointed chairman)
Angela Cavendish (Alexsam Corporate Finance)
Donal Curtin (Accountant of Byrne Curtin Kelly)
Declan McCourt (Auto dealer OHM Group)
Niamh O’Sullivan (Arup)
Sean Fitzpatrick (Anglo Irish Bank)
Mary Moylan (Asst Sec Dep of Env)
Joan O’Connor (Interactive Project Managers)

Shane Ross responds

Says Ross in last Sunday’s Independent:

LAST April I met a hotshot Dublin businessman in a southside pub. He was not a household name but — at that time — he was as rich as Croesus. And he was angry at a piece I had written about Anglo Irish Bank.

The meeting was cloak and dagger stuff. He was not keen be seen with me; but he wanted to warn that those who were attacking Anglo would get their comeuppance. He wished to see the story in print.

The hotshot revealed that a group of his well-heeled cronies were determined to set up a revenge fund to punish all those short-sellers who had targeted Anglo. These guys had a sense of ownership: his friends were going to defend “their” bank at all costs. Those standing in the way would be swept aside by the flood of money. Enemies of Anglo would have their fingers badly burnt.

The plan was tinged with emotion; consequently it was all a bit vague, but the plot had been hatched in a Dublin hotel. A figure of €500m directly raised from the “lads” was mentioned. More would be borrowed in order to ensure success.

I still do not know today if this was the birth of the infamous Anglo 10, but I suspect that it bore the seed of the latest scandal.

I blogged Ross’s April article last week. Unfortunately he does not reveal who this Croesus figure is. What is also interesting about the language Ross uses. In April last year it was “big builders and entrepreneurs” and “consortium”. Now it’s “cronies”, “plot”, and “cloak and dagger”.

We have also since learned that the meeting between Brian Cowen and Anglo directors on April 24 (according to a FG spokesman and not denied), was the same day as this meeting between Anglo “cronies” to organise a share support operation. What a coincidence.

That dinner again

Thanks to the Sindo we have this from a Fine Gael spokesman:

Mr Kenny’s spokesman yesterday said that when Mr Kenny had questioned the Taoiseach about whether any members of the Cabinet were involved in facilitating the so-called ‘Golden Circle’ he did not have a specific individual minister in mind.

He added, however, that it was “not credible” that the Government had no knowledge of controversial transactions involving Anglo Irish Bank, stating that the Taoiseach, when he was Finance Minister, had a private dinner with the board of Anglo Irish Bank “three days” before the media first wrote about the possible existence of what has now come to be known as the ‘Golden Circle’.

I might have missed it before, but I’ve not seen “three days” mentioned before, certainly not in previous articles I’ve linked to on this subject. If the Fine Gael spokesperson is correct, then it would mean the meeting reported by Shane Ross on April 27 and the now confirmed private dinner between Anglo executives and Brian Cowen, occurred on the same day, April 24. Perhaps the lads never mentioned it to Cowen?

Another gem, in typical Sindo style, is confirmation that Noel Dempsey and Brendan Smith met Sean Quinn in December 2007. The story is full of nonsense and it tries to disguise the importance of the meeting by throwing lots of red herrings into the mix. The critical part of the story is what Corcoran tries to dismiss – that two ministers met Quinn in December.

Gerry Gannon

Gerry Gannon has been a builder/property developer since the 1980s. (Not to be confused with the anti-divorce lawyer of the same name)

As far back as 1986, Mr Gannon – through the firm Structural Developments Ltd – was building at Castle Village in Celbridge.

In 1988, Gannon, through another firm – Noteworthy Limited – with partner Michael Anglim, planned to build 710 houses at Brackenstown close to Swords. At the time it was one of the largest schemes submitted to Dublin County Council. Permission was granted for the scheme in October 1988. The scheme at the time was said to be worth upwards of £40m.

The site on which the houses were built was bought by Noteworthy Ltd as a parcel of land in 1987. The land was zoned for residential purposes in 1983 against the recommendation of the Council’s planning officials.

In April 1990, Mr Gannon, now trading through Gannon Homes, sought permission for a £70m residential scheme and a shopping centre on a 110-acre site on the Malahide road.

The scheme involved 915 houses on a 95 acre site fronting the Malahide Road and the Hole in the Wall road at Ayrfield. They also lodged planning applications for a drive-in restaurant, a pub and a library.

The firm bought the land from two sites. The 95 acres were bought from Abbey Group and the 15-acre site was the site of the former Clare Manor Hotel.

Gannon Homes had previously built developments at Rathfarnham village, Orla Grove, Scholarstown Road and Celbridge.

Meat dumping

In January 1992, meat destroyed in a blaze at United Meat Packers plant in Ballaghdreen, Co Roscommon, were dumped in a quarry in Co Westmeath. The quarry at New Forest, Tyrrellspass was owned by a Mr Gerry Gannon. Local people expressed anger at the dumping.

The dumping began on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 8, 1992, when a fleet of lorries arrived, it was reported in the Irish Times. The dumping was suspended shortly before midnight, but resumed on Thursday January 9 and continued throughout the day.

Local landowners and farmers estimated that 400 tonnes of charred meat had been brought to the local quarry. Locals planned a picket of the quarry for Friday morning.

The dumping was supervised by officials from the Department of Agriculture. Tonnes of quicklime and gravel were poured on top of the charred meat.

Malahide/Portmarnock

In July 1993, North Dublin was in the throes of mass re-zonings. Many of these re-zonings would become subject to investigation to the Flood/Mahon Tribunal.

On July 16, 1993, the Irish Times reported under the heading: Baldoyle slipped through the net- But only after a fight: North County Dublin was right in the firing line for the blitz of rezoning decisions by the County Council, writes Frank McDonald.

Other stories on the same page described the large amounts of cash being handed out in envelopes to councillors.

Due to publicity surrounding the rezoning of greenbelt lands separating Baldoyle from Portmarnock, the vote was defeated. Pennine Holdings, fronted by Frank Dunlop had sought the rezoning.

This was amid a slew of rezonings taking place at the time. The Times reported:

The most ingenious deal involves the Malahide/Portmarnock greenbelt, where Gerry Gannon, of Gannon Homes, enlisted the support of seven sports clubs in the area for two major rezoning proposals.

When the matter came before the council last April, the county planners stressed the importance of preserving the greenbelt and recommended that there should be no change in the draft plan. However, an omnibus rezoning motion tabled by GV Wright (FF, Malahide) and Michael Kennedy (FF, Malahide), designed for the Gannon Homes scheme, was passed by 33 votes to 28.

The scheme, which would effectively reduce the width of the greenbelt at its narrowest point to not much more than a few hundred yards, is opposed by the Malahide Community Council, the Portmarnock Community Association, the Dunes Action Group and the Biscayne Residents Association. It will be the subject of a rescinding motion tabled by Bernie Malone (Labour, Malahide).

In September 1993 it was reported that council could face legal challenges to one of its decisions on Sep 27 1993, to allow zoning for 250 houses on 37.5 acres of greenbelt at Robswalls, between Malahide and Portmarnock.

By rezoning, the councillors ignored the advice of planning officials.

This was related to the earlier July decision. The deal, subject to planning permission, would see a deal between the sports clubs who would get new pitches and facilities in return for their existing pitches in the Swords/Portmarnock green belt.

It ensured the clubs’ active support for the rezoning, and led opposition councillors to express concern that developers would be able to use public “inducements” to get around the planning process.

County manager, Al Smith, intervened three times at the meeting to tell councillors speaking in favour of the motion – and the deal – that it was not lawful for the council to take an arrangement between third parties into consideration when voting on development plan, which is supposed to be concerned solely with proper planning.

Councillor Anne Devitt (FG), supported the rezoning, arguing that the proximity of housing to the land made it impossible to farm.

“Farmers have to ride with a shotgun when they are harvesting to ward off savages who are attacking them as they are harvesting,” she said.

The vote was 37 to 24 in favour of the rezoning.

The sports associations said that the deal depended on further rezonings, including 57 acres at Wheatfield Stud.

In February 1996 Gannon Homes paid almost 1.4m for a 2.35 acre site at Main Street, Malahide Road, Swords. Work stated on this site in April 1997. 32,000sq ft of shops were built.

In October 1996, another parcel of land proposed for rezoning by Cllr Anne Devitt and Cyril Gallagher was up for voting. It was 160 acres of Rathbeale Road, north of Swords for a mixed housing development. This land was mainly owned by Mr Gannon. He also sought the rezoning of 13 acres of land at Rathingle for housing, in a motion tabled by Seamus Lyons (FF) and Liam Creaven (FF).

On January 27 and 28, 2005, Mr Gannon was questioned by the Mahon Tribunal in relation to payments from Noel Smyth and Co which were said to have originated from an Isle of Man account controlled by Goodman International.