By Brian Dowling
Former Minister and European Commissioner, Pádraig Flynn’s appearance on the Late Late show in 1999 proved to be a turning point in the Planning and Payments Tribunal.
In the interview Mr Flynn spoke about knowing Tom Gilmartin. He said that neither Mr Gilmartin, nor his wife was in good health, describing Mr Gilmartin as “out of sorts.”
Up to that point there was still uncertainty about whether Mr Gilmartin would give evidence to the early phase of the Tribunal.
However, on hearing Mr Flynn’s remarks, Mr Gilmartin decided to co-operate.
Mr Gilmartin, a successful businessman in the UK, came back to Ireland in the late 1980s and identified two potential retail developments in Dublin, one at Bachelor's Walk and the other at Quarryvale
Mr Gilmartin would later allege that money was demanded from him at various stages by politicians and councillors.
It was Mr Gilmartin's allegation that Bertie Ahern had received money from Cork developer Owen O'Callaghan that culminated in the then Taoiseach appearing before the Tribunal.
Mr Gilmartin also told the Tribunal that Mr Flynn requested a check for IR£50,000 as a donation to the Fianna Fáil party, on the understanding that steps would be taken by Mr Flynn to ease or remove obstacles and difficulties which the developer was facing in relation to the Quarryvale site.
The Tribunal’s report found that former Minister and EU Commissioner "wrongly and corruptly" sought the donation and having been paid IR£50,000 by Mr Gilmartin for that purpose, proceeded to use that money for his personal benefit.
It said it was inappropriate of Mr Gilmartin to make the payment but acknowledged he felt coerced.
It also accepted Mr Gilmartin's evidence that he was threatened on a number of occasions about his development project including one occasion in the Dáil.
The report criticised a Garda investigation into his allegations of corrupt demands.
Mr Gilmartin was granted immunity from prosecution by the Director for Public Prosecutions in 1998 in return for giving immediate and truthful evidence to the Tribunal.