extract from my play GILMARTIN, which is available to buy on Amazon
The Greed and Corruption at the Heart of Irish Politics
A play in two acts
When Bertie Ahern resigned on May 6th 2008 after 11 years as Irish Taoiseach and
more than thirty years all told in the corridors of power, it was as a direct result of the
fall-out that occurred from the treatment meted out to Irish businessman, Tom
Gilmartin, which only emerged in its entirety at the conclusion of the Mahon Tribunal,
which had sat for almost 15 years before reaching its conclusions in 2012.
Tom Gilmartin had emigrated to Luton in the 1950’s from Sligo, and over the years had
built up a successful business in construction and engineering, in Luton and South East
England. Now a multi millionaire he decided in the late 1980’s to invest his experience –
and money – in some projects in Dublin, where unemployment was high, and where
poverty had once again seen many young Irish people cross the water in the hope of a
Tom had ambitious plans for several major retail developments in the city, which he
hoped would provide work for hundreds, if not thousands, in the city, but little did he
know that in order to do business in Dublin, senior politicians and public officials would
want a slice of the action – in large amounts of cash.
Embittered and impoverished by his experiences, Tom finally blew the whistle on the
corruption at the heart of government and the city’s planning system. His complaints
resulted in the setting up in 1997, by order of the Oireachtas, of the Mahon Tribunal to
look into ‘certain planning matters and payments’. Ironically, it was championed by
none other than one Bertie Ahern.
Length…100 mins approx
Setting…Dublin 1990’s – 2000’s
Lights come up slowly to reveal Tom Gilmartin pacing slowly the room. The backdrop
shows larger than life images of Paul Robeson – b/w film? – Some should be silent, some
of Paul singing. Paul sings OLE MAN RIVER and Tom sings along with him in a deep
There’s an ol’ man called de Mississippi;
That’s the ol’ man I don’t like to be!
What does he care if the world’s got troubles?
What does he care if the land ain’t free..
Ol’ Man River,
That Ol’ Man River
He mus’ know sumpin’ But don’t say nuthin’,
He jes’ keeps rollin’,
He keeps on rollin’ along.
He don’t plant taters,
He don’t plant cotton,
An’ dem dat plants ’em
Is soon forgotten,
But Ol’ Man River,
He jes’ keeps rollin’ along
TOM: I love that song. I love Paul Robeson. I just love that man. He had more
trouble in his life than any man deserved. He was a genius, no doubt about it.
But he was black. A black genius. He was a brilliant footballer; a brilliant
lawyer – until the day a secretary said to him, ‘ I don’t take dictation from a
nigger’. That finished him and the law. Still, it didn’t stop him from becoming
a top class entertainer, acting and singing all over the world – until that too was
taken from him by the scourge of America of the 1950’s – Mcarthyism.
If he was white he could have been president of the USA. But he wasn’t. And
because he was black he suffered greatly. (pause)
We Irish are often referred to as the blacks of Europe. And maybe we are. We,
too, have suffered. Famine and persecution; our rights, our freedoms, taken
away. No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish, we all remember that, don’t we.
But what about our own people? Those at the top I mean – politicians and the
like. When they behave worse than the Mafia, or the Klu Klux Klan, how do
we deal with that?
He sings a few more bars of the song before the lights gradually fade to black.
Tom Gilmartin, a man in his late fifties, emerges from a meeting with Charles Haughey
and a number of his government ministers. Tom, well dressed – suit, etc – looks a bit
bemused. He sits in a chair for a moment, thinking. After a while a woman enters.
WOMAN: I think the Boss was impressed.
TOM: The boss?
WOMAN: Charlie. Shure that’s what we all call him.
TOM: We? (he looks at him) Excuse me, have we met? Do I know you?
WOMAN: Wasn’t I at the meeting?
TOM: Were you? Where were you – in a cupboard?
WOMAN: Ha, Ha. Them is the country’s most powerful men. They’ll get you what you
want. No question about that.
TOM: And what do I want?
WOMAN: Money. Isn’t that what we all want?
TOM: I thought all I wanted was to get this bloody development at Quarryvale off the
WOMAN: We’re all behind you on that. It’s the money that’s the problem.
TOM: No, the money’s not a problem. When I get the go-ahead I’ll get the money. In fact
it’s already there. Just waiting for the okay.
WOMAN: Ah now, I think there a little misunderstanding here. I was thinking more
about…you know… the expenses.
Silence for a moment
TOM: Ah! You mean fucking bribes. Is this another shake-down?
WOMAN: Don’t you realise you are going to get every assistance to get your two projects
off the ground? We don’t do this sort of thing for every Tom, Dick and Harry
TOM: This sort of thing?
She waves towards the closed offices.
WOMAN: What do you think was going on in there? A bloody garden party? That was a
show of unity. To show we are all behind you. The Boss doesn’t do appearances like this
every day of the week’.
TOM: Well, it is a major investment that I’m bringing to the country, so I would think they
would be happy to see it under the current economy
WOMAN: You’re also – we’re all aware that you are going to make hundreds of millions out
of these projects.
TOM: Not me. Whoever invests in it might. But it won’t be me that makes hundreds of
WOMAN: Well, we think that you should give us some of the money upfront.
WOMAN: Everybody is agreed. And we would like you to deposit five millions – pounds
that is – before you start.
TOM: Can you say that again? I think I’m hearing things.
WOMAN: Well, we want you to deposit five million pounds, and we want it deposited in an
Isle of Man account.
TOM: That’s not much. Does…’The Boss’ know about this?
The woman takes a strip of paper and hands it to Tom. Tom looks at it.
TOM: What’s this?
WOMAN: It’s the account details
TOM: You seriously want me to put five million in there?
TOM: You make the bloody Mafia look like monks. What do you think I am? Do I look like
I came up the Liffey on a banana boat or something?
The woman tries to grab the paper from Tom’s hand but he fends her off and sticks it
in his pocket
WOMAN: You could wind up in the Liffey for saying things like that.
TOM: Do you know what you can do? You can eff off – whoever you are!
Tom walks to one side.
WOMAN: (after him) You won’t get very far with an attitude like that. Remember, we’ll be
Tom speaks to audience. He is calling out amounts and handing out fat brown
envelopes. Each envelope is collected by a hand reaching out from behind a curtain
TOM: Padraig Flynn fifty thousand… Ray Burke forty thousand… Liam Lawlor, eighty one
thousand, Bertie Ahern fifty thousand…George Redmond a hundred thousand…Liam Lawlor
a hundred thousand…
He chucks the rest of the envelopes on the ground
Ah Christ, the list is endless…(pause)
LIAM LAWLOR appears. He wears glasses, is smartly dressed, wearing a suit and tie.
Has a Dublin accent. He doesn’t speak for a while
TOM: The first time I met Liam Lawlor was in the Dead Man’s Inn, a pub in Palmerstown. I
was interested in finding out the ownership of land at Quarryvale, which I believed would
suit my requirements down to the ground for my development scheme, and I had been told
Lawlor was my man. He knew ‘where every blade of grass was growing in Dublin’ I was
He came tearing in the door, all ‘hail fellow and well met’ and wasn’t the slightest bit
interested in what I wanted to know. He only wanted to talk about the Bachelors Walk
development, which he said was on his patch, and told me the Government had allocated him
to take care of me and get the deal into Dublin. He said he wanted to meet the people behind
the proposed development, so I said I was meeting them in London the following Thursday
and would ask them if they wanted to meet him
Take care of me! He did that all right.
The next thing I know is he turns up at the meeting in London as brazen as brass, saying he
had been appointed by the Government to look after Bachelor’s Walk, and that they would
have to have him on board if the scheme was to get off the ground. He went on to say that he
could knock two years, at least, off the time to develop the scheme if he was on board.
The fucker had some neck. (Lawlor smiles at this) I said I hadn’t invited him – which I
hadn’t –that I didn’t even know him and had only met him on one occasion. He contradicted
me and said I had invited him. That’s the sort of bastard he was, twisting peoples’ words to
suit his lies. He was a hustler, no doubt about it. Years later, when the details of his dodgy
dealing finally came out at the Mahon Tribunal, he was prepared to go to prison rather than
reveal any of his financial shenanigans.
LAWLOR MOVES FORWARD
TOM. Anyway, I left him talking with my backers and went off for a cup of tea. About an
hour later he turned up, a big grin on his face.
LAWLOR: Well, They’ve appointed me.
TOM: What do you mean?
LAWLOR: Your backers. I’m on board. In the mix. I told them I wanted a twenty percent
TOM: Jesus, you’ve some neck, I’ll say that for you.
LAWLOR: …and a hundred thousand up front. But they turned it down.
TOM: They have some bit of sense anyway.
LAWLOR: But they agreed that you would give me half your stake and the hundred grand
TOM: Did they? Well, go back and tell them you’ll get nothing of my stake and no hundred
LAWLOR: Well, we won’t fall out over the matter – yet. They have agreed to pay me a
consultancy fee of three thousand five hundred month.
TOM: Consultancy…for what?
LAWLOR: You need somebody to help you traverse the difficult political landscape in
TOM: Do I? And you’re that man, I suppose.
LAWLOR: Someone to ease you through the corridors of power. Sure I know every…
TOM: I know. Every blade of grass. I don’t need you. Or anybody. I think I can still
LAWLOR: You have to work with me or you are going nowhere.