Lowry a red-line issue for Labour, says Tánaiste
Published 29/01/2016 | 02:30
Táinaiste Joan Burton said talks with Independent Michael Lowry on the formation of the next government would be a red-line issue for the Labour Party.
Ms Burton said she had made it clear "that Michael Lowry would not be an acceptable person in relation to any government that the Labour Party would be part of."
In her strongest comments since the controversy arose over Mr Lowry's potential to be a kingmaker after the election, the Labour Party leader indicated she would rather her party stayed out of government than be propped up by the Tipperary TD.
"So that's that. I suppose Michael Lowry is incredibly delighted with all the front-page coverage he has had for the last week, so I'm sure he feels it will do him no harm in his own re-election attempts," she said.
Her statement is now likely to put the spotlight back on Taoiseach Enda Kenny - who is continuing to be equivocal about a possible role for Mr Lowry. The Fine Gael leader has said he was not "contemplating" working with any Independent TDs - but then also refused to rule them out.
Earlier this week, a High Court judge said Mr Lowry engaged in "a litany of falsification and deception" - including the falsification of a solicitor's files - in his failure to co-operate with the Moriarty Tribunal.
Mr Justice John Hedigan made the comment when he dismissed on all grounds Mr Lowry's challenge to a decision of that tribunal to award him only one-third of his legal costs, a bill he says will run into millions. The Labour Party leader said she read some of the comments made about the Tipperary TD's behaviour in court earlier this week.
"He was also the subject of a debate in the Dáil of censure in relation to the findings of Moriarty. Mr Lowry would not be part of any arrangements in relation to any government that the Labour Party would be part of," Ms Burton said.
There is a divide within Fine Gael over whether it should categorically rule out Mr Lowry.
Sources told the Irish Independent the Taoiseach does not want to rule out Mr Lowry for fear that giving a direct answer to that question will lead the media to start asking about other individuals.
However, Leo Varadkar has already said he would not want to work with Mr Lowry in government. The Health Minister said Mr Lowry "has an issue with the law" and that the Government must not return to "parish pump deals".