Reynolds to be questioned on land purchase

Another former Taoiseach will appear before a Tribunal, Longford’s Albert Reynolds this time:

Tribunal lawyers say Mr Reynolds was a principal in a Guernsey-based company, Universal Management Consultants Ltd, which entered into negotiations to buy the lands in 1997.

The co-owner of UMC was Patrick Russell, a barrister who represents the late Liam Lawlor at the tribunal.

Four years earlier, the owners of the land, Rayband Ltd, had succeeded in having it rezoned from agriculture to light industry.

In 1997, Mr Russell proposed acquiring the land through a joint venture between UMC and a Derry-based building firm, O’Neill Brothers, according to yesterday’s statement by senior counsel Patricia Dillon, for the tribunal.

Mr Russell has told the tribunal that Tim Collins, a land scout with an architectural practice who introduced Frank Dunlop to Rayband, acted on behalf of Rayband and claimed to own 10 per cent of the development.

Mr Collins, who is a long-time associate of Bertie Ahern and a trustee of his constituency office, has denied Mr Russell’s claim. Documentation suggests he was to be paid up to £50,000 as a “contribution to landlord’s expenses” on closing the sale.

The joint-venture agreement provided for a payment of stg£600,000 (€869,500) by O’Neill Brothers to buy out an undisclosed “minority interest” in the site.