Lowry vows to challenge Moriarty report
TD rejects ‘insidious influence’ claims

Eamonn Wynne

Eamonn Wynne

North Tipperary Independent TD Michael Lowry has said he totally rejects the tenure of the Moriary report, which found that the former Communications Minister assisted businessman Denis O’Brien in acquiring a mobile phone licence in the mid 1990s.

The second and final report from the Tribunal of Inquiry has concluded it is “beyond doubt” that Mr. Lowry gave what it termed “substantive information to Denis O’Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence”.

The Tribunal report found that Deputy Lowry displayed “an appreciable interest” in the process and had “irregular interactions with interested parties at its most sensitive stages”.

It also found that Mr. Lowry sought and received substantive information on emerging trends and made his preferences on the leading candidates known.

The report found that Mr. Lowry proceeded to bypass consideration by his Cabinet colleagues and thereby not only influenced but delivered the result that Esat Digifone had won the evaluation process, which ultimately led to the licensing award.

The report describes these matters as elements of Mr. Lowry’s “insidious and pervasive influence” on the process.

However, in a statement released on Tuesday evening Michael Lowry described the report as “factually wrong and deliberately misleading”.

“Moriarty has outrageously abused the Tribunal’s ability to form opinions which are not substantiated by evidence or fact. For example, in relation to the license it was not possible for me to interfere with the license process without the collusion of up to 18 civil servants.

“During the prolonged hearings into the license not one single witness gave evidence that I in any way interfered with the process or made any suggestion as to who should win the license. Furthermore not one single witness gave evidence that I in any way undermined the application of any losing bidder”, he stated.

Deputy Lowry described it as “ludicrous” of Justice Moriarty to state that the government of the day were in any way misled or in any doubt as to the recommendation made by the independent project team.

He said it should be remembered that the project team was comprised of senior civil servants from both the Department of Communications and the Department of Finance.

“From the outset Moriarty was biased and has given 14 years working to prove a theory that the license was improperly granted. It beggars belief how he could ignore the extensive evidence given to the Tribunal, which clearly confirms that I did not in any way influence the decision of the independent project team. Moriarty’s credibility was shattered because of his selective approach to evidence during the private and public enquiry.

This report is ultimately the opinion of the chairman and it has no basis in law. It is my intention to study the report in detail and, in due course, to challenge its veracity”, Deputy Lowry added.

Denis O’Brien has also rejected the findings of the report.

The inquiry was established in 1997 to look into the financial affairs of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey and former Fine Gael Communications Minister Michael Lowry.