Friday 28 July 2017

Son recalls living for 14 years under 'cancer' of tribunal

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

FOR 14 years, Michael Lowry's oldest son watched as his father's emotional and physical health suffered.

Micheal Lowry is 34 today, but he can barely remember what family life was like before the tribunal started.

The constant demands for information and scrutiny of his affairs has taken its toll on Micheal's dad.

It can't be easy to see your father struggle. During Micheal's childhood, "the father", as he calls him, rose through the Fine Gael ranks.

In Thurles yesterday, Micheal looked like a man who had answered all the questions about his dad before. He was resigned to the fact that the tribunal would probably continue to be what Michael Lowry once condemned as a "cancer to me".

The young man is an Independent on North Tipperary County Council and is part of Team Lowry. They are Michael Lowry's staunchest supporters who work 24/7 to ensure every phone call is answered and every pothole is filled.

That is the way things work in Tipperary and the Lowrys make no apologies for it.

National politics is supposed to have changed but he believes everything is the same in Tipperary -- where "things don't work like they do in Dublin".

"I picked up the phone this morning and rang him, it was one of the first things I did," he revealed after he heard the report had finally been published.

"It's in excess of 2,000 pages. It'll take me days to go through it in detail," Micheal said before adding that it was an "unexpected report". "It was not expected for another two months. After 14 years -- that is the length of time we have had to live with this on a daily basis -- you'd think the least the tribunal would do is notify Deputy Lowry ahead of time."

Stuck

The words "disgraceful" and "insidious" -- used by Mr Justice Moriarty to describe his father's actions -- are the ones that stuck in the back of Micheal's throat.

"We are father and son and when it comes to him being my father, and to him in politics, you couldn't ask for someone better to mentor you in life, politics and business."

Micheal has one brother Jonathan (30) and a sister, Lorraine (31). "Obviously it has taken its toll on our father and on our family's life for 14 years. We are under constant scrutiny in the media. There's a public perception outside of Tipperary but it's the polar opposite here."

Mr Lowry was once one of Fine Gael's most ambitious ministers. Tipperary people had high hopes that he would make a fine Taoiseach one day. But it never happened for the rising politician and successful businessman.

As the tribunal dragged on, Mr Lowry topped the poll in the 2007 General Election.

He had to be lifted from his hospital bed and brought to the count centre. His supporters helped Mr Lowry lift his arms to celebrate his victory before he returned to hospital.

Tipperary natives had started to refer to him as "poor Michael" at this stage. Those sentiments were echoed in the beautiful village of Holycross yesterday as the sun beamed down on Mr Lowry's home.

This is the house that occupied front pages across the country when it was reported that businessman -- and then supermarket tycoon Ben Dunne -- had splashed IR£395,000 on an extension to the Glenreigh residence. The allegation prompted Mr Lowry's resignation from the Cabinet in November 1996.

Irish Independent

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