The trial of the counterparty in the Fred Forsey corruption case is set to commence tomorrow in Waterford Circuit Court. In the dock tomorrow is NAMA developer Michael Ryan (60) who is charged with corruptly giving €80,000 to Fine Gael councilor Fred Forsey in 2006 in return for rezoning of land outside Dungarvan, county Waterford – coincidentally the NAMA chairman, Frank Daly’s home town.
Last June 2012, Fred Forsey was jailed for six years after a colourful trial which heard of bribes, pubs, nods and winks, the wrathful wife, the “other woman” , a car and the holidays in Rome. There was nothing complicated about it – a councilor was judged to have received corrupt payments.
The counterparty – the person now accused of making the corrupt payments – in the case tomorrow is Michael Ryan, against whose company, Dauphin 2 Aviation, NAMA took foreclosure action in March 2012 and had receivers appointed. It was also believed that it was NAMA which was behind the sale of foals of Horse of the Year “Sea the Stars” in November 2011, at least one of which was owned by Michael Ryan, who is himself a former Fine Gael councillor and hails from Dungarvan in Waterford and is credited with developing the Al Eile stud farm.
Conor Kane reporting in the Irish Independent this afternoon says that the trial which starts tomorrow is expected to last a week and a half and will be before a jury of 12 who were selected today.
It is the view on here that one of the greatest failures by this Government was the decision in 2012 not to investigate planning practices across the State, particularly during the construction boom of the early to mid-2000s. The trial tomorrow is a reminder of, at the very least, the suspicions of wrong-doing – wrong-doing which was established in the case of the Mahon Tribunal. Do we really think planning shenanigans were limited to parts of Dublin and in the case of Fred Forsey, Dungarvan?
The decision by Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan acting under the auspices of Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, to shelve the investigations went largely unchallenged. You will rarely see an attack such as the following, which still appears on a Government website, on democratic life in this State
“The furore over planning investigations is a smokescreen created by the unholy alliance of a thoroughly discredited Fianna Fail party and the man mercifully released by the Irish electorate from his “asylum” into the political wilderness – John Gormley. So said Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Housing & Planning today (29 March, 2012) as she set the record straight on the matter.”
UPDATE: 5th February, 2013. Drama this morning in Waterford when the jury was discharged by the judge who has ordered a new trial which should take place on 9th April 2013 onwards. We don’t know why the trial was halted on day 5 of what was expected to be an 8-day hearing, but this morning the jury was turfed out of the room whilst lawyers for both sides debated some issue or issues which resulted in the judge calling a new trial. Michael has been remanded on continuing bail pending the hearing. There is additional reporting from the Irish Times but we remain none the wiser about the reason or reasons for the judge’s actions.
UPDATE: 9th April, 2013. There was a hearing this morning, and RTE reports that the judge adjourned the matter for hearing from 2nd July 2013 with a hearing estimate of 5-6 days.