28th June 2012, The Irish Times (Read here)
TI Ireland comments on an Irish public representative convicted of corruption.
FORMER FINE Gael councillor Fred Forsey was yesterday sentenced to six years in prison with two years suspended for taking bribes from a property developer.
The former deputy mayor of Dungarvan, Co Waterford, had been convicted by a jury last month of receiving corrupt payments of €80,000 in exchange for lobbying his council colleagues to rezone agricultural land for residential and industrial use.
Forsey (43) was caught when his estranged wife Jenny went to gardaí and told them about suspicious payments her husband had received. He later tried to disguise the bribes as a loan by forging a backdated loan agreement with the developer. He was arrested in July 2009.
Judge Gerard Griffin yesterday said he had no doubt that if the rezoning had gone ahead, the resulting industrial estate would be unoccupied and the residential homes would be in “another ghost estate”. Quoting the Mahon tribunal report, the judge said corruption was “a deeply corrosive force” and, rather than being a victimless crime, the victims were “too numerous to identify individually”.
He said Forsey had gravely breached the trust of the people of Dungarvan who had elected him.
Transparency International Ireland said it believed Forsey was the first public representative in the history of the State to be convicted for corruption.
His sentencing “highlighted the urgent need for comprehensive efforts to stamp out corruption in local government”. A Fine Gael spokeswoman said the party had no comment on the sentencing.