Thursday 22 March 2018

FF leader silent on details of TD's deal

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

MICHEAL Martin last night refused to reveal the contents of the deal his party struck with Michael Lowry when Fianna Fail was in power.

The Fianna Fail leader had earlier called on the Independent TD to resign from the Dail in the wake of the Moriarty Tribunal report -- just weeks after his party had depended on him to pass crucial legislation.

Mr Lowry struck a deal with then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2007 to provide support for the Fianna Fail-Green coalition.

Fianna Fail still refused to disclose the details of the deal last night and a spokesman for Mr Martin said he had no hand in striking a deal with Mr Lowry and other Independents.

But sources in Mr Lowry's local organisation said the 2007 deal was reaffirmed by Mr Cowen when he took over as Taoiseach in 2008.

The Irish Independent has learned that it contained, amongst other items:

  • €5m for Nenagh General Hospital
  • €23m for schools in Borrisokane, Nenagh and the Ursuline Convent in Thurles.
  • Road improvement grants for Tipperary North.
  • A package to improve approach roads, footpaths and street lights in Thurles.
  • Community grants and money for sports facilities.

Yesterday morning, Mr Martin said Mr Lowry should "consider his position in terms of the damning nature" of the Moriarty Tribunal report.

Mr Lowry, and fellow Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae, had continued their squeeze until the dying days of the last Government.


Some in Mr Lowry's organisation said Fianna Fail knew what had been said before the Moriarty Tribunal when they relied on his support.

"They knew about this stuff, there is nothing new in the report," one source said.

Mr Lowry and Mr Healy-Rae extracted concessions from former finance minister Brian Lenihan in exchange for their support for the Finance Bill -- the final major act of the last Government -- in January.

Mr Lenihan and Mr Cowen were reduced to personally pleading with Mr Lowry to get the bill passed.

He managed to get a partial exemption of medical card holders from the Universal Social Charge (USC) and a reverse of the decision to bring forward the Preliminary Tax Payment date for the self employed from October 31 to September 30.

However, Mr Lowry tried to claim credit for reversing a decision not to allow tax relief on student fees, even though this had already been announced.

Mr Lenihan did not return calls last night on other demands Mr Lowry had made.

During the election campaign, Mr Lowry gave hundreds of letters to schoolchildren in Borrisokane outlining his success in securing the new school building. And, on the day the Budget was announced last December, Mr Lowry boasted to constituents that the Government approved funding for a school toilet.

Locals and staff at Our Lady's Secondary School in Templemore, Co Tipperary, were left with the impression that Mr Lowry had used his leverage in the run-up to the Budget to help get €43,000 for the upgrade of the school toilet.

At the time, Mr Lowry said he mentioned the school to then education minister Mary Coughlan three months in advance of the Budget.

Irish Independent

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