Cosgrave faces community service sentence

Tuesday 28 February 2006 09.29
Liam Cosgrave Jr - Community service likely
Liam Cosgrave Jr - Community service likely

The former Fine Gael politician, Liam Cosgrave Jr, is likely to face a sentence of community service for his conviction of failing to declare a political donation.

In the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Catherine Delahunt said a custodial sentence might not be appropriate, and she has asked the Probation and Welfare Service to assess his suitability for community service.

Cosgrave, a 49-year-old solicitor with more than two decades in public office, knowingly furnished a falsified donation statement to the Public Offices Commissioner.

The 1997 Electoral Act requires all public representatives to disclose any single donation over €500 they have received.

In 1997, Mr Cosgrave was running for relection to the Seanad.  Lobbyist Frank Dunlop gave him a cheque for €2,500, but he did not keep a record or include it in his sworn declaration.

Instead the donation came to light at the Flood Tribunal and Mr Cosgrave was arrested and charged. It was the first prosecution under this legislation.

In court today, Judge Delahunt rejected Mr Cosgrave's plea of a certain ignorance of the ramifications of the Electoral Act and said that as a legislator and a member of the legal profession he should have been keenly aware of the ramifications of any piece of legislation.

The court had heard he had an unblemished record of public service in the Dáil and Seanad, had no previous convictions and had now lost both his political and professional careers.

It was claimed that he had been vilified and pilloried in the media, treated as an outcast and lost friends due to his tainted reputation.

His counsel, Luan Ó Braonáin, said his offence was not one of corruption or bribery but one of failing to disclose a political donation.

The trial is now expected to be concluded on 26 May.