By John Kilraine

The Planning and Payments Tribunal was set up 15 years ago to investigate corruption in the planning process.

Despite controversy over the cost, legal challenges and lack of co-operation from witnesses, the wide-ranging inquiry has already made a series of corruption findings against prominent developers and a former Minister.

The final report comes after a total of 1,200 days of public hearings from over 600 witnesses.

Land rezoning by councillors against the advice of planners caused widespread unease in the mid 1990s.

Members of An Taisce offered a reward for information about corruption and there were garda inquiries before the planning tribunal was finally set up in 1997.

The late James Gogarty, former executive with the builders JMSE, made the first of many allegations of corruption against politicians and developers and the then tribunal chairman Fergus Flood was able to publish an interim report in 2002.

Former Justice Minister Ray Burke was found to have received the equivalent of at least €290,000 in corrupt payments. He was later sentenced to six months in jail for tax evasion.

Some of the payments came from the developers Michael and Tom Bailey, who later had to pay back a record €22m in taxes.

Former assistant manager for Dublin city and county George Redmond was also found to have received corrupt payments. He was sentenced to one year in jail for corruption, though his conviction was quashed after eight months in prison.

He also made a tax settlement of nearly €1m.

Judge Alan Mahon took over the chair of the tribunal in 2002 sitting with two other judges.

Hearings began to concentrate on the evidence of former Government Press Secretary turned lobbyist Frank Dunlop. Mr Dunlop testified about cash paid to politicians in pubs and car parks in exchange for rezoning votes.

Mr Dunlop was sentenced to 18 months in jail for corruption. Five former and serving councillors and a developer are now facing trial on his testimony.

The tribunal found that the late TD Liam Lawlor was not co-operating with the tribunal inquiries.

Mr Lawlor was jailed three times for a total of six weeks. He was also facing a possible prosecution for perjury before his death.

Former developer Tom Gilmartin was the next to make a series of corruption allegations. He described a series of demands for money from politicians in exchange for planning favours.

Former Environment Minister Padraig Flynn admitted he got a personal political donation worth over €60,000 from Mr Gilmartin. Mr Gilmartin said the cheque was intended for the Fianna Fáil party.

It was Mr Gilmartin's allegation that Mr Ahern had received money from Cork developer Owen O'Callaghan that culminated in the then Taoiseach appearing before the tribunal.