Saturday 7 December 2019

Michael Lowry asked to appear in court in person

Michael Lowry, Independent deputy for Tipperary North. Photo: Tom Burke
Michael Lowry, Independent deputy for Tipperary North. Photo: Tom Burke

Ralph Riegel

FORMER Minister Michael Lowry has been asked by a District Court judge to attend court in person so he can be served with the book of evidence in relation to tax return charges.

The Independent TD for Tipperary North did not appear in person before Thurles District Court this morning where Judge Elizabeth MacGrath was informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the book of evidence against the former minister is ready for service.

Mr Lowry's solicitor, Michael Collins, represented the Tipperary TD in court and said that he could accept the book of evidence on his client's behalf.

However, Judge MacGrath said she would prefer if Mr Lowry was in court so the book of evidence could be served on him in person.

"I want the book to be served personally," she said.

Mr Collins indicated that Mr Lowry would attend the court in the afternoon to facilitate this.

State Solicitor, Gerard O'Brien, and an assistant had several boxes of evidence in court in relation to the case.

The first charge was levelled against Mr Lowry in December and three further charges were brought against him in January.

Today is the fifth time the matter has come before Thurles District Court.

Mr Lowry has confirmed he will vehemently contest the case.

“The matters before (the) court in Thurles relate to technical breaches which Revenue allege arose 11 years ago,” he said.

“I intend to vigorously contest the Revenue allegations. My lawyers have advised that I have a full defence to the allegations.”

Mr Lowry (60) of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary faces a total of four counts of “knowingly or wilfully” filing incorrect tax returns.

Three of the charges relate to a date in October 2003 and involves income tax for the 2002 tax period.

The fourth charge relates to a date in August 2007 and involves income tax for the 2006 tax year.

Judge MacGrath has already been told that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has instructed that the matter be dealt with by indictment before the Circuit Criminal Court by judge and jury and not in the District Court.

When the book of evidence is served on Mr Lowry the matter will be remanded to the Circuit Criminal Court for trial.

The charges, under section 1078 (2) (A) of the Taxes Consolidation Act, carry a fine of up to €3,000 and/or up to six months in jail, if proven in a District Court and a fine of up to €127,000 and/or up to five years imprisonment, if proven before a jury in the Circuit Court.

Mr Lowry, a father of three, is a former Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications in John Bruton’s Rainbow Coalition Government.

He was first elected to the Dail for Fine Gael in 1987 having been a successful Tipperary-based businessman and a GAA official.

He was appointed to Mr Bruton’s Cabinet following the collapse of Albert Reynolds’ Fianna Fail-Labour Coalition in late 1994.

Mr Lowry resigned his position in November 1996.

He has now been an Independent TD for 17 years.

Mr Lowry has been returned as a TD for the Tipperary North constituency at every election since 1987.

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