Monday 18 December 2017

If I'm corrupt, then jail me, says Dunne

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FORMER Communications Minister Michael Lowry's attempt to get businessman Ben Dunne a rent increase was "profoundly corrupt", the Moriarty Tribunal report found.

But Mr Dunne challenged the tribunal chairman, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, to have him prosecuted if he believed he engaged in a corrupt manner.

The tribunal said Mr Lowry tried to influence an increase in the lease for the Marlborough House office block in Dublin following a request from Mr Dunne.

Telecom Eireann, then a semi-state agency, was based in the building at the time.

Mr Lowry sought to procure unwarranted rent increases that over a seven-year period would have improperly enriched Mr Dunne, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty concluded.

The then Fine Gael minister sought to influence the outcome of an arbitration, held in 1995, on the rent payable by the tenant to a company owned and controlled by Mr Dunne.

"What was contemplated and attempted on the part of Mr Dunne and Mr Lowry was profoundly corrupt to a degree that was nothing short of breathtaking," the report said.

But Mr Dunne yesterday denied any wrongdoing on his part and said there was "not a shred of evidence".

"I do know it makes a reference to me as corrupt," he said.

"I (have) done absolutely nothing wrong in any of my dealings," he added.

Mr Dunne said he had merely contacted Mr Lowry "to speed up the process".

Defend

The former Dunnes Stores chief said he would not run away from the allegations made against him in the report and would defend himself.

Mr Dunne challenged Mr Moriarty to have him prosecuted if he had broken the law.

Rejecting the findings, he insisted he was not corrupt.

He said if the tribunal chairman felt he had broken the law, he should forward a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"Mr Moriarty, if you believe what you have put in print about Ben Dunne, make sure now that Ben Dunne is prosecuted and put behind bars because corrupt people should be put into jail," he said on RTE's 'Liveline'.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Lowry made no specific mention of the findings on his relationship with Mr Dunne.

"This report is ultimately the opinion of the chairman and it has no basis in law. It is my intention to study the report in detail and in due course, to challenge its veracity," he said.

The report refers to Mr Lowry's "cynical and venal abuse of office", his "brazen refusal" to acknowledge the "impropriety" of his financial arrangements with Mr Dunne and businessman Denis O'Brien.

Mr Dunne also said the tribunal never acted upon a medical report which said he was unbalanced and unwell during the 1990s. He said the report said he was using mind-altering substances which affected his memory and behaviour.

Yet Mr Dunne said the tribunal never spoke to his medical team or psychiatrist.

Irish Independent

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