Bertie and the illegal dumper

Even Fianna Fáil can't explain the curious connections between the Taoiseach and Louis Moriarty, who has been convicted for illegal dumping. However, in 2002 Bertie refused assistance to him. By Frank Connolly

Fianna Fáil refuses to say whether Louis Moriarty, the controversial owner of a waste-disposal company, is a contributor to local or national party election funds. And the level of the association between Louis Moriarty and Bertie Ahern also remains unclear.

Bertie Ahern has repeatedly stated he never knew or previously met Louis Moriarty prior to a photo-shoot in Sneem, Co Kerry earlier this month.

Louis Moriarty is facing sentencing in the criminal courts in October having pleaded guilty to the illegal dumping of waste, including material from two Dublin hospitals, in Co Wicklow.

Bertie Ahern has insisted, most recently on Radio Kerry on Tuesday 15 August, that he had never met Moriarty before he arrived on the site of the businessman's ?20m hotel development for the photo opportunity.

He said he was approached by Nicola Duggan, who works at the Wrestler's Inn in Sneem and who is also involved in marketing Moriarty's hotel development. She asked him to visit the site. Duggan told Village that she met Ahern on the street in Sneem, where the Taoiseach was holidaying, and asked him to come to the hotel site – there was no prior arrangement.

"I am doing sales and marketing for the hotel. I saw the Taoiseach on the street and I approached him. That is the way it happened. Mr Ahern visited the site to take part in a photo-shoot," said Nicola Duggan.

But there is evidence of earlier associations between Bertie Ahern and Louis Moriarty.

Ahern has acknowledged his constituency office heard from Moriarty in 2002, following which his constituency organisation wrote to Moriarty saying the issue at stake was a legal matter and he (the Taoiseach) would not be of assistance on that occasion.

Ahern also made representations at the time to the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of local residents who were protesting about one of Moriarty's waste-disposal facilities in East Wall.

Ahern's constituency advisor, Cyprian Brady, has said he met with Moriarty on two occasions, at least, in 2002 but cannot remember the details of their discussions. He claims that he recalls the protests in East Wall against the operation, without proper licensing or planning permission, of the Dublin waste facility. He also claims that he would have informed Ahern of his discussions with Moriarty, although the Taoiseach has said he has no recollection of any such indirect contacts with Moriarty.

"He came to the advice centre in St Luke's on a couple of occasions and met with myself," Cyprian Brady told Village. "I don't remember the details but, in the normal course of events, any issue that comes to us is discussed with the Taosieach. He says that he has never heard of him and never met him. There may be a conflict there but we do have quite a throughput in the office. We get hundreds of representations. If the Taoiseach is saying that, then that is what he is saying. But my recollection of it is that I met him, there were complaints over his waste facility and I would have discussed this with the Taoiseach later."

Brady said he did not know whether Moriarty has contributed to the constituency organisation and referred the query to party headquarters. However, the Fianna Fáil press office could not confirm whether Moriarty was a donor to Ahern or his constituency before Village went to press on 16 August. Another source in the constituency organisation has told Village he believes Moriarty has contributed to the party or its candidates either nationally and/or locally.

However, other sources close to Bertie Ahern have said that neither Moriarty nor his company Swalcliffe, trading as Dublin Waste, have contributed to the party, locally or nationally.

The sources said substantial contributions were received from another waste-disposal company, AI Waste, which also operated in East Wall and which has been accused by Wicklow County Council of illegal dumping at two sites, Coolamadra and Whitestown in west Wicklow. Des Richardson, a close associate of Ahern over many years, has confirmed to Village that he acted as a consultant for A1 Waste, which is owned by Dublin businessman Tony Dean.

Bertie Ahern has said that letters sent by his office on behalf of Moriarty were signed by him but were prepared by other office staff and were not seen by him.

Louis Moriarty is a native of Sneem in south Kerry, which Ahern visits during his annual summer vacation.

Among other associates of Bertie Ahern in Sneem is one of his key constituency officers, Dominic Dillane, whose family owns a food outlet in the town. Dillane, who lectures in tourism management in DIT, Bolton Street, handles the accounts and returns for Ahern's Dublin Central constituency organisation. He was recently appointed by the government to the board of Fáilte Ireland along with another well-known Kerryman, the former footballer and county manager Paidi Ó Sé, three years ago. Dominic Dillane was uncontactable prior to going to press.

In 2002, Wicklow County Council won an order in the High Court against landowner Clifford Fenton, Swalcliffe Ltd and Louis Moriarty over the illegal dumping of thousands of tons of waste, including hypodermics and other bloodstained products from the Mater and Blackrock private clinics, on lands at Coolamadra in west Wicklow. The court also ordered Fenton and Swalcliffe to restore the site at their own cost. Swalcliffe and Moriarty have also pleaded guilty in criminal court proceedings to the illegal disposal of waste, including contaminated hospital waste at Whitestown, also in west Wicklow.

Earlier this year the former owner of the site, John O'Reilly, was fined ?150,000 for his role in the illegal dumping, while a truck-driver, Neville Watson, was jailed for six months. It is expected that Moriarty will be sentenced in the court in October. Wicklow County Council is also pursuing a civil action against Moriarty and his company, as well as others involved in illegal dumping of waste at several locations in west Wicklow, including at the massive Roadstone quarry in Blessington.

On 14 August, the East Wall Resident's Association called for the Criminal Assets Bureau to investigate Moriarty and his company's activities following the announcement of his hotel development in Kerry.

Efforts by Village to contact Louis Moriarty were also unsuccessful.

'I told Bertie about Moriarty's waste-disposal activities 25 years ago'

The Taoiseach was informed of Louis Moriarty's waste-disposal activities by residents of the North Wall more than 25 years ago, Village has learned. In the summer of 1981, Millie Masterson of Mayor Street, Dublin 1 personally escorted the then young politician around a site on Castleforbes Road which Moriarty planned to use as a waste-storage depot. Masterson, now 79, and other neighbours objected to the proposal due to the experiences of nearby residents of Sheriff Steet, who complained about tyre-burning and other polluting activities by Moriarty's company on another site near the quays.

"I escorted Bertie Ahern around the site on Castleforbes Road at the back of what was then the Joy of Home Tea Company. Moriarty had spotted the yard and wanted to move his waste-disposal operations there. I can remember clearly it was the summer of 1981 as I had come home from a visit to Ohio in 1979 and my son was married in March 1981. When we heard of Moriarty's plans we picketed the yard from early morning to late at night," Millie Masterson said. She said that there were a number of confrontations with Moriarty over the protests.

"I contacted all the political parties and Bertie Ahern, who was new into politics, came down. I told him about Moriarty, who was a demon for burning tyres and extracting copper on a site in Sheriff Street which was at the back of what is now the Clarion Hotel. I brought Bertie Ahern to the yard at Castleforbes Road. We gave him the ins and outs of Moriarty's record in the area. Moriarty was not there when he came down but he told us he would look into it.

"Moriarty's company, Dublin Waste, later moved on to another site near the Liffey Trust building on Upper Sheriff Street and there was a legal row over the storage of waste there before he moved on to East Wall," Masterson told Village.

Frank Connolly