Liam Lawlor - 'Mr Big'

Tuesday 20 August 2013 11.40
Liam Lawlor - 'Mr Big'

By Sandra Hurley

Liam Lawlor was the first person to be jailed in connection with the Planning and Payments Tribunal, although he was not the last.

He was imprisoned three times, but never as a result of a criminal prosecution. Instead, he was repeatedly jailed for failing to co-operate with the Tribunal.

The Dublin West TD was central to three areas of the Tribunal's work on complex land deals at Coolamber, Carrickmines and Quarryvale.

Sensationally, key witness Frank Dunlop described him as “Mr Big”, and the man behind attempts to bribe councillors in lucrative rezoning deals.

The Tribunal believed he had a secret and profitable partnership with property developer Jim Kennedy and solicitor John Caldwell.

While Mr Lawlor admitted getting money, he said it was for legitimate consultancy fees.

At the Tribunal, he doggedly defended himself in the face of mounting evidence.

Judge Alan Mahon said Mr Lawlor had repeatedly lied to the Tribunal in an attempt to mislead and obstruct.

But in October 2005, the 61-year-old died unexpectedly in a car crash in Moscow.

The Tribunal tried and failed to seek outstanding legal costs from the Lawlor estate in a battle which went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Its report today found that Mr Lawlor abused his role as an elected public representative to a very significant degree.

The Tribunal said it was satisfied that Liam Lawlor's relationship with lobbyist Frank Dunlop and developer Owen O'Callaghan was "firmly based in corruption."

The report said that Mr Lawlor received in excess of IR£150,000 from Frank Dunlop between 1991 and 1998.

It found that he "accepted inappropriate and corrupt" payments from Arlington plc.

It also found his involvement with landowners and developers rendered him "hopelessly compromised".