O'Callaghan questioned over O'Rourke incident

Tuesday 21 October 2008 16.59
Mary O'Rourke - Opposed Golden Island
Mary O'Rourke - Opposed Golden Island

Property developer Owen O'Callaghan was questioned at the Mahon Tribunal about an incident when former Minister Mary O'Rourke called gardaí after a visit to her home by one of his partners.

Mr O'Callaghan previously testified that he heard Mrs O'Rourke called gardaí after his then partner the late Tom Diskin 'touched her shoulder' during a discussion about her opposition to the Golden Island development.

Today Paul McGarry BL for Mrs O'Rourke said the incident in 1994 was not as benign as Mr O'Callaghan had heard.

Mr O'Callaghan said he was just quoting what was said locally and in the newspapers.

Mr O'Callaghan was asked about his statement that Mrs O'Rourke was opposed to Golden Island development because it was not in her part of Athlone.

Mr McGarry put it to Mr O'Callaghan that this could not be right because Mrs O'Rourke represented all of Athlone and only opposed the Golden Island site because it was away from the town centre.

Mr O'Callaghan said he was going on what he had been told and added that the site was as close to the town centre as possible.

He said when he first told of Mrs O'Rourke of the proposed site she walked away from him.

Earlier Mr O'Callaghan insisted that a former Fine Gael councillor demanded £250,000 to support his Quarryvale development.

Mr O'Callaghan has testified that he immediately refused the demand by the late Tom Hand in October 1992 and said he did not care whether the councillor would vote for the project or not.

But Colm O'Dulachain SC for Mr Hand pointed out that debts incurred in progressing the Quarryvale development had accrued to over £14m by that time and its success depended on the vote of each councillor.

He said that for Mr O'Callaghan to treat a councillor's approach to him in such a trite and dismissive manner did not ‘seem real’.

Mr O'Callaghan replied that he was afraid it was.