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Saturday 30 August 2014

Michael Lowry remanded for trial on tax return charges

Ralph Riegel

Published 01/04/2014 | 15:12

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Michael Lowry,Independent deputy for Tipperary North  at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 12/12/13
Michael Lowry, Independent deputy for Tipperary North. Photo: Tom Burke

FORMER Cabinet Minister Michael Lowry has been remanded for trial by judge and jury on charges of filing incorrect tax returns.

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The Independent TD for Tipperary North appeared before Thurles District Court after Judge Elizabeth MacGrath had earlier insisted she wanted the book of evidence in the case to be served on him in person by the State.

Mr Lowry, who appeared in court wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, did not speak during the brief five minute hearing.

His only action in court was to nod in acknowledgement of mandatory alibi advice offered by Judge MacGrath.

Gerard O'Brien, for the State, confirmed that the book of evidence was ready.

"The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) consents to the accused being remanded for trial on indictment before the Circuit Court," Mr O'Brien said.

He said the State also consented to Mr Lowry being remanded on existing bail terms in his own bond of Euro500.

Judge MacGrath noted that the book of evidence had been served on Mr Lowry.

She remanded him to appear before the next sitting of Nenagh Circuit Criminal Court on June 24 next.

Mr Lowry did not comment to the media as he left the court.

The TD had earlier been represented in court by his solicitor, Michael Collins.

The solicitor said that he could accept the book of evidence on behalf of his client who was not in court yesterday morning.

However, Judge MacGrath said she would prefer if Mr Lowry was in court so the book of evidence could be served on him in person.

"I want the book to be served personally," she said.

Mr Collins said Mr Lowry was available to attend court in the afternoon to facilitate the matter.

The State Solicitor and an assistant had several boxes of evidence in court in relation to the case.

The first charge was levelled against Mr Lowry in December and three further charges were brought against him in January.

The remand was the fifth time the matter had come before Thurles District Court.

Mr Lowry has previously confirmed he will vehemently contest the case.

“The matters before (the) court in Thurles relate to technical breaches which Revenue allege arose 11 years ago,” he said.

“I intend to vigorously contest the Revenue allegations. My lawyers have advised that I have a full defence to the allegations.”

Mr Lowry (60) of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary faces a total of four counts of “knowingly or wilfully” filing incorrect tax returns.

Three of the charges relate to a date in October 2003 and involves income tax for the 2002 tax period.

The fourth charge relates to a date in August 2007 and involves income tax for the 2006 tax year.

The charges, under section 1078 (2) (A) of the Taxes Consolidation Act, carry a fine of up to €3,000 and/or up to six months in jail, if proven in a District Court and a fine of up to €127,000 and/or up to five years imprisonment, if proven before a jury in the Circuit Court.

Mr Lowry, a father of three, is a former Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications in John Bruton’s Rainbow Coalition Government.

He was first elected to the Dail for Fine Gael in 1987 having been a successful Tipperary-based businessman and a GAA official.

He was appointed to Mr Bruton’s Cabinet following the collapse of Albert Reynolds’ Fianna Fail-Labour Coalition in late 1994.

Mr Lowry resigned his position in November 1996.

He has now been an Independent TD for 17 years.

Mr Lowry has been returned as a TD for the Tipperary North constituency at every election since 1987.

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