Thursday 19 October 2017

'Recall Moriarty for 3 months' – Martin

The Sunday Independent’s Elaine Byrne tries to question Michael Lowry.
The Sunday Independent’s Elaine Byrne tries to question Michael Lowry.

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has called for the Moriarty Tribunal to be reopened for three months to examine new material, including the Lowry tapes.

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has called for the Moriarty Tribunal to be reopened for three months to examine new material, including the Lowry tapes.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Martin also criticised RTE and praised TV3 "inexplicably alone among Irish broadcasters", which played an audio of one of the tapes last week.

Mr Martin said that next week he will call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to agree to have a specific module of the tribunal reopened for three months to allow Mr Justice Moriarty, the tribunal chairman, examine the new material that has emerged since he reported two years ago.

In his statement, the Fianna Fail leader referred to the "proximity" of Mr Kenny and "many of his ministers" to events which led to the establishment of the tribunal.

He spoke of the "enabling silence" of Labour ministers who, he said, had so far only

ANALYSIS ELAINE BYRNE, GENE KERRIGAN, COLUM KENNY, EILIS O'HANLON, JOHN-PAUL McCARTHY, PAGES 24-25, 30

broken their silence to "sneer" at his request that Mr Justice Moriarty be asked to examine the tapes.

Mr Martin said: "If Fine Gael meant a word of what it said about the need for change, and if the Labour Party has a shred of integrity left, I expect unanimous support for this call."

Three weeks ago the Sunday Independent published a transcript of a recording between the former Fine Gael minister, now Independent TD, Michael Lowry and the Northern Ireland-based businessman, Kevin Phelan.

When the TV3 Tonight with Vincent Browne programme broadcast the recording on Thursday last, a clamour was unleashed for the so-called Doncaster Rovers module of the tribunal to be reopened.

Yesterday, the Irish Times reported that while the conversation did not appear to raise issues for the findings of the Moriarty tribunal, other than to support them, the tape did suggest a "troubling picture".

Journalist Colm Keena said this picture showed Mr Lowry operating behind the scenes, seeking to manage what information the tribunal would be given in the course of the Doncaster Rovers module.

In the wake of publication of the transcript, Mr Lowry admitted he had, indeed, made a stg£248,624 payment to Mr Phelan in August 2002.

In 2007, however, Mr Lowry, through his solicitors, told the tribunal the only payment he had made to Mr Phelan was for stg£65,000 in April 2002. Yesterday, the Fianna Fail leader stepped up pressure on the Government.

In a statement, he said: "The information contained within the Michael Lowry recording, if verified, raises some very serious questions. Primary among them is whether a central module of the Moriarty tribunal was compromised by an effort to co-ordinate the evidence of key witnesses.

"Based on the written transcript of this conversation, and new material received by Senator Diarmuid Wilson and forwarded to the tribunal, I questioned the Taoiseach in Dail Eireann on whether he would facilitate a re-examination of the matter by Judge Moriarty. The Taoiseach dismissed my concerns, while Labour Party ministers broke their silence only to sneer at the question.

"Following the decision of TV3 to play the audio recording on Thursday night, inexplicably alone among Irish broadcasters, the case for a fresh examination of the relevant module becomes even stronger. The nuances which emerge, absent from the written transcript, add to the fear that the tribunal's work may have been compromised.

"Given the proximity of the Taoiseach and many of his ministers to the events which led to the Moriarty tribunal, his reluctance to investigate this matter is perhaps understandable. However, the enabling silence of the Labour Party leadership is a stark reminder of that party's weakness.

"No political party in this country can point to an unblemished past, but those of us who want to build a better quality of politics for the future have a duty to speak out on this issue. Fine Gael and the Labour Party were elected with a record majority on a long list of promises. At the top of that list was a promise to change the way we practise politics. In that spirit, I will next week call on the Taoiseach to agree to have the specific module of the Moriarty Tribunal reopened for a period of three months to allow Judge Moriarty examine the new material that has emerged since he reported two years ago."

Irish Independent

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