After 14 years at last Justice Moriarity has concluded his investigations on the behaviour of once Fine Gael Minister, Michael Lowry. So let’s remember the scandal in their own words; Michael on John Bruton; “Best friends for ever” , Michael on Semi States; “I’ll go through them like a knife through butter, I’ll smash cosy cartels” on own his financial affairs “All my tax affairs are in order” Michael on his own motives “If I had wanted to evade tax I would have used an offshore account” John Bruton to an FG aid re a £50k donation from one investor “Leave it where it is”, Denis O’Brien to ESAT’s Barry Moloney;“ I gave Lowry £100,000”.
Moriarity on Lowry “conferred a benefit on Mr Denis O’Brien a person who made payments to Mr Lowry, Mr Lowry was …a far from disinterested minister whose sole anxiety was to secure a competitor to Eircell, Exhibited an appreciable curiosity about the substantive process and was provided with information by members of the project group… many meetings with no documentary records…and exerted an insidious and pervasive influence on the process who thereby not only influenced but delivered the result…What was contemplated and attempted on the part of Mr Lowry and Mr Dunne was profoundly corrupt, to a degree that was nothing short of breathtaking."
If you blink you miss it. Suspend reality while the masters of the universe shuffle their money form one offshore account to another regardless. No suggestion of any need to declare any donations for tax, the fact that then Minister Lowry could happily skull pints with Denis O’Brien on the night of the All Ireland football final without any suggestion of potential conflict of interest says all that needs to be said about Irish crony capitalism. To make matters worse for Lowry, Ben Dunne who hides behind the defence that he had psychological issues in the 90’s today sees nothing wrong in the Minister who was the then shareholder in Telecom Eireann ringing the telco company to direct them to pay more rent to the landlord at one of their properties who just happens to be Mr Ben Dunne. Clearly this wasn’t a case of Dunnes better value beating them all, at least for the tax payer. Whatever friendship existed between Bruton and Lowry is now clearly in the past since its clear from the report that Lowry misled Bruton and Spring as well as his cabinet colleagues.
So where is all at? I’m glad to hear Pat Rabbitte the new minister say he is going to refer it to the DPP to see if the Gardaí should investigate aspects of this worrying report. Hopefully it will not be too long before the matter is before the courts. But in the meantime Michael Lowry remains a TD. He helped keep the worse government that we’d had for many years in power. Lowry is at present touting for a casino in his own constituency that will rival Las Vagas, if you believe his spin. Before the last General Election, Denis O’Brien sent FF, FG, Labour and the PD’s each cheques of €50,000. Pat Rabbitte who was the then Labour leader returned the cheque sent to Labour to Mr O’Brien. We don’t know what happened to the other 3 cheques.
So what happens next? 2 of the defeated applicants are pursuing the state for compensation, the bills for the 14 year tribunal process have to be met. Once more the taxpayer will carry Michael’s burden while Denis O’Brien remains as a tax exile in Malta sitting on the huge profit he made when he disposed of the company about 10 years ago to BT now O2.
The only wry smile on my face was when Micheal Martin pursued Enda Kenny on the matter. If only Micheal had tackled Bertie Ahern or Ray Burke or his own early patron Charlie Haughey in their day. Still the lord loves a trier! Despite the report there exists embarrassment in the 2 establishment parties as to how their fundraising can be exposed in this way. I believe that their inclination will be to ignore the scandal. That would be wrong. Our country deserves transparent politics and decision making. Pointing up errors in accountability in banking is useless unless politics is run in a transparent manner. That is the ultimate challenge of today’s final Moriarity Report.