Monday 18 December 2017

Kenny: Dail cannot bar Lowry

The Dail does not have the power to force disgraced TD Michael Lowry to resign his seat, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Amid demands for the Tipperary North Independent to be barred from the house, the Taoiseach said fellow TDs do not have the constitutional authority to impose a lock-out.

"This House doesn't have the constitutional authority to deny anybody access here if they are elected by an electorate from whatever part of the country," Mr Kenny said.

Ahead of the second day of the debate on the Moriarty tribunal's damning findings, Mr Kenny said he would consider a motion formally reprimanding Mr Lowry.

The Taoiseach has again stopped short of calling on his former cabinet colleague to resign and instead repeated his claim that Mr Lowry would only quit in an "ideal world".

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin had called for the house to act collectively to force Mr Lowry out about a month after he retained his Tipperary North seat by topping the poll.

Mr Martin said Mr Lowry's intentions to remain in his seat were clear from statements made attacking the tribunal and he said it was time for the Dail to move against him.

He accepted the Dail could not compel a resignation but said it could express its belief that there should be one.

"It's about the Dail making a statement in as concrete and determined a fashion it can about the behaviour of Deputy Lowry as found by the Moriarty Tribunal," Mr Martin said.

He challenged Mr Kenny to say whether he accepted the inquiry's conclusions.

But the Taoiseach took a swipe at the Fianna Fail chief, claiming his arrogance knew no bounds.

"You sat on these benches, you travelled the world on behalf of the people of this country, simply because Deputy Lowry and others had secret deals with you that you refused to publish," Mr Kenny said.

"I've said before Moriarty was ever published, and when it was published, that in an ideal world, Deputy Lowry would resign from the house but we don't live in an ideal world."

At the opening of the two-day Dail debate yesterday Mr Kenny said the TD could not hide behind his mandate, claiming the report's findings reeked of fanatical greed and obsessive attachment to power.

Mr Lowry spoke for an hour in the Dail during which he attacked the Tribunal's findings, Mr Justice Moriarty and again reiterated that he did nothing wrong.

In the wake of an examination of the report by the Criminal Assets Bureau, Mr Lowry challenged the state to use all the arsenal in its power to investigate him, defiantly declaring they would find no trace of the £900,000 the Tribunal said he secured off the back of the second mobile phone licence.

Mr Lowry will speak later for another 20 minutes before the debate concludes with an hour-long question and answer session between TDs, the Taoiseach and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

Press Association

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