Lowry refuses to resign his Dail seat
FORMER minister Michael Lowry insisted last night that the thought of quitting his Dail seat "hadn't even entered his head" in the wake of the Moriarty Tribunal's damning report.
The Tipperary North TD's political reputation was shredded yesterday after the tribunal found that he had engaged in a "cynical and venal abuse of office" during the awarding of the second mobile-phone licence while he was Minister for Communications.
It also said he was involved in a "profoundly corrupt" move to get unwarranted rent increases for businessman Ben Dunne.
But Mr Lowry last night told the Irish Independent that he would not be quitting the Dail seat he has held since 1987.
"It hasn't even entered my head and won't enter my head," he said. "I will be making a considered statement in response to the report, followed by whatever further action is required to expose the fallacy of (the tribunal's) report," he said.
Although Mr Lowry was severely criticised in the report, he can continue as a TD.
The only way a TD can be disqualified is if he or she is declared bankrupt, found to be of "unsound mind" or given a prison sentence exceeding six months for a criminal offence.
Mr Lowry said all the findings in the report had been thrown at him for 14 years and had already been extensively covered by the media.
"The people of North Tipperary voted for me in the knowledge of what had been put to me at the tribunal and on three occasions since the tribunal started.
"I have retained their confidence. I intend to remain as a democratically elected member of Dail Eireann."
But the Moriarty Tribunal found that Mr Lowry gave "substantive information" to businessman Denis O'Brien, which was of significant value and assistance to his Esat Digifone consortium in securing the second mobile-phone licence.
And in a separate matter, the tribunal found that as Communications Minister, Mr Lowry sought to influence the arbitrator who was setting the rent for a building owned by businessman Ben Dunne.
It said this was to bring about a result in which Telecom Eireann's rent for Marlborough House on Marlborough Street in Dublin would have increased in annual value by €431,000.
This would have more than doubled the value of Mr Dunne's investment of €6.86m to €16.9m.
The tribunal said this attempt was "profoundly corrupt" and a "grave dereliction of duty" by Mr Lowry, who was responsible for Telecom Eireann as Communications Minister.