Friday 22 September 2017

Lowry given all-clear by watchdog's land probe

Michael Lowry
Michael Lowry

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

INDEPENDENT TD Michael Lowry has been given the all-clear by the political standards watchdog after complaints about his non- declaration of land he owned in England.

Around 388 people complained that he had not included his part-ownership of a 21-acre site in Wigan in his official Dail declaration.

Under Dail rules, TDs are obliged to declare their ownership of any land worth over €13,000.

But the Standards in Public Office Commission hired professional valuers, who found that the land was worth less than €13,000 and therefore did not need to be declared under the rules.

EVIDENCE

In a letter to Mr Lowry, the Commission said that after getting the valuation report, it had decided that the evidence sufficient to sustain the complaints "is not and will not be available". It confirmed that it had decided not to carry out any further investigation into the complaints

Mr Lowry has always insisted that the site, which he purchased back in 2001, was landlocked, overgrown and not zoned for development. He has maintained that it had 'zero value'.

In a statement, the Tipperary South TD said the Commission had spent considerable financial resources fully investigating the complaints about his stake in the Wigan site.

"I am pleased that the Commission has concluded its work and has found that these complaints were unfounded and without substance," he said.

Mr Lowry has refused to say how much of the 21-acre site he owned along with Thurles businessman Liam Carroll.

Wigan Council has confirmed that the site is not included in its current proposal for a 30-hectare enterprise park just off the M6 motorway. This is because the site is not adjacent to any road near the junction.

It marks the end of another controversy surrounding Mr Lowry's Dail declaration of his interests. Last year, he was ordered to change his 2009 declaration to include his 95pc shareholding in a Tipperary-based company.

The Dail committee on members' interests found that Abbeygreen Consulting owned land worth €300,000 at the time and that his stake should have been declared.

The committee also found that Mr Lowry committed a "minor contravention" of the Ethics Act by failing to declare his shareholding in his refrigeration company Garuda from 2009 to 2011.

It noted that Mr Lowry had updated his Dail declaration to reflect this.

Irish Independent

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