2005-10-09John Lee, political correspondent,
Major developers who are also financial backers of Fianna Fáil stand
to make millions from the controversial M3 motorway which
conservationists say will destroy the historic Hill of Tara.
A company controlled by multi-millionaire builder Joseph Murphy Jr –
whose main business, JMSE, was exposed as corrupt the Flood tribunal –
owns valuable lands along the route.
So too does multi-millionaire Fianna Fáil backer Cathal McCarthy,
formerly a business partner of Frank Dunlop, the corrupt former
government press secretary, and of Des Richardson, a close friend of
Both Mr Murphy and Mr McCarthy stand to make millions from the sale
of land needed for the motorway – which campaigners say will destroy
some of our most important archaeological sites – and for the
construction of intersections.
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 motorway route and which may well be opened up for
development once construction is completed.
Support for the M3 route formed a major part of the Fianna Fáil
campaign in Friday’s by-election – even though archaeologists and
ecological activists have compared it to Egypt’s Valley of the Kings
and insist that it should be preserved.
Mr Murphy faces an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau after
playing a central role in the Flood/Mahon Tribunal into planning
Mr Murphy and Frank Reynolds, the former managing director of JMSE
who was also condemned by Mr Justice Fergus Flood, are beneficial
directors of Newland Properties Ltd with an address at Ashley House,
Batterstown, Co Meath.
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 ther parts of south
Meath near the proposed route.
Though the CPO on the five-and-half acres is expected to net the
company about €5m, the real potential for profit is in its other
properties beside and near the M3 route. Inevitably, 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.
Tribunal star James Gogarty, when accompanying Joseph Murphy and
another corrupt building tycoon, Mick Bailey, to a 1989 meeting with
now jailed ex-minister Ray Burke to make a corrupt €30,000
contribution, innocently asked: “Will we get a receipt?”
“Will we f***,” was the reply.
Cathal McCarthy, meanwhile, has made millions from the development
of Navan town centre in partnership with another rich developer, Gerry
Duignan. IoS has seen files that show Mr McCarthy owns 12 acres at the
most controversial interchange on the motorway – right beside the Hill
of Tara, ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
An additional 200-acre landback beside the interchange site was
transferred to the name of Mr McCarthy since April 2004. The land is
highly valuable given its proximity to the interchange and the M3.
Opponents of the current route of the new motorway argue that the
29-acre, floodlit interchange will damage the Hill of Tara.
It has also been learned that 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
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’.