Developers who are also financial supporters of the Fianna Fáil party are likely to reap a fortune from the completion of the controversial M3 highway through the Tara / Skrene Valley near the Hill of Tara.
A company controlled by multi-millionaire builder Joseph Murphy Jr – whose main business, JMSE, was exposed as corrupt the by Flood tribunal – owns valuable lands along the route.
Multi-millionaire Fianna Fáil contributor Cathal McCarthy, formerly a business partner of Frank Dunlop, the former government press secretary, and of Des Richardson, a former fundraiser for the Fianna Fail party also owns land along the proposed highway.
Both Mr Murphy and Mr McCarthy will make millions from the sale of land needed for the highway.
But Mr Murphy, in particular, stands to make even more substantial profits from the hundreds of acres of land which he owns within a few miles of the highway route and which may well be opened up for development once construction is completed.
Mr. Murphy was under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau after playing a central role in the Flood / Mahon Tribunal into planning corruption. Mr Murphy and Frank Reynolds, the former managing director of JMSE, are beneficial directors of Newland Properties Ltd with an address at Ashley House, Batterstown, Co Meath. Both individuals were named in the Third Interim Report of the Flood Tribunal as having hindered and obstructed the tribunal; in Joseph Murphy’s case for not revealing the circumstances in which he paid Dublin Corporation planning official George Redmond on two occasions, and in Frank Reynold’s case for failing to acknowledge that he was present at a meeting where a cash payment was made to George Redmond in the presence of Michael Bailey.
Newland Properties owns 26 acres in Roestown, Ratoath, Co Meath, of which five-and-a-half acres are subject to compulsory purchase by Meath County Council for construction of the M3.
But in recent years, Newland Properties has bought up more than 130 acres in nearby Ratoath, Dunshaughlin, Dunboyne and other parts of South Meath near the proposed route.
Though the Compulsory Purchase Order on the five-and-half acres is expected to net the company about €5m, the real potential for profit is in new developments beside and near the M3 route. When the motorway is completed, there will be pressure to rezone this land for housing and industrial development – a move that would bring in millions more for the two building magnates, according to property experts.
Frank Reynolds said the company owned more than 100 acres
“if you take in Dublin and other places”. “I think if you ask anybody whose land will be affected by the M3 or N2, they would say they’d rather have the land. I wouldn’t say I’d make a killing on it. You can’t do much with land that has a road running through it”, said Mr Reynolds.“I don’t know if you can do much with it building-wise as people don’t want to live by a motorway”.
Land Registry documents show that Newland Properties also has a massive land portfolio in Dublin. JMSE has made huge financial contributions to Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats.
Cathal McCarthy, meanwhile, has made millions from the development of Navan town centre in partnership with another developer, Gerry Duignan. A reporter for the Independent on Sunday newspaper viewed files that showed that Mr McCarthy owns 12 acres at the controversial Blundelstown interchange on the highway – right beside the Hill of Tara, ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
An additional 200-acre land bank beside the interchange site was transferred to the name of Mr McCarthy since April 2004. The land is highly valuable given its proximity both to the interchange and the M3 highway. The floodlit interchange will be situated just 1.2 kilometres from the Hill of Tara.
In 1999, Mr McCarthy and Mr Duignan – registered with the Public Offices Commission as Duignan & McCarthy, PO Box 44, Navan, Co Meath – contributed £30,500 to Fianna Fáil.
The contributions are listed as ‘£2,500 for attendance at a fundraiser, £3,000 for attendance at a fundraiser and £25,000 for attendance at a fundraiser’.
In the mid-1990s McCarthy and property developer Eamonn Duignan bought a property in Navan with Fianna Fail fundraiser Des Richardson and Frank Dunlop, the former government press secretary. Duignan, Richardson and Dunlop have no involvement in the land transfers near the interchange at Blundelstown.
Meath County Council planning director Kevin Stewart said there were no developments proposed for the area but that any plans would need to be considered as they were presented.
Michael Egan, spokesman for the National Roads Authority (NRA), stated that although the NRA was in favour of service stations being located on national roads near motorway interchanges, anyone applying for permission to build a service station would have to go through the normal planning process. He said that any application for development near the Blundelstown interchange was likely to be viewed in the context of its proximity to Tara.
http://tarawatch.org/?p=64 (Source: Ireland on Sunday
2005-10-09 John Lee, political correspondent).