Tuesday 24 October 2017

Kenny fails to demand TD's resignation

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny did not call on disgraced TD Michael Lowry to resign from the Dail last night as Fine Gael maintained its ambiguous attitude towards its former minister.

Last week, Mr Kenny said that in an "ideal world" Mr Lowry would resign. But yesterday he confined himself to saying merely that the Tipperary North TD had to answer the findings against him in the Moriarty Tribunal report "forensically and willingly".

During his speech in the Dail debate on the report, Mr Kenny said Mr Lowry could not address the issues from his sense of his own mandate.

"I cannot imagine a mandate from the Irish people -- or true democrats anywhere -- that would involve an order or desire or permission for the behaviour outlined in the report," said the Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny did not say if he accepted the conclusions of Judge Moriarty but instead "welcomed" his recommendations and said government departments had been given a month to report on whatever "appropriate action" should be taken from them.


He also claimed that the report "exonerated" members of the Rainbow Coalition cabinet. The tribunal found that it was bypassed by Mr Lowry in the decision-making process leading up to the granting of the second mobile phone licence.

But Mr Kenny did say that he believed it was wrong for Fine Gael not to override the opinion of a senior counsel who said the party did not have to disclose to the tribunal a $50,000 donation from Telenor.

The Danish company was a partner of Denis O'Brien's Esat Digifone and the tribunal found that the company donated the money to Fine Gael in 1995, at the request of Mr O'Brien, two months after the licence had been awarded to Esat.

However, when the then leader of Fine Gael, John Bruton, learned of the donation, he insisted that it be returned.

The legal advice said the donation was for the party rather than Mr Lowry and therefore didn't fall within the tribunal's remit. Fine Gael acted on that opinion, which Mr Kenny instructed his party to publish last night.

He added: "The circuitous and clandestine way in which this cheque was routed to the party was also wrong."

Mr Kenny also announced yesterday that his Government would introduce a ban on corporate donations to political parties, a reduction on the cash limits of donations, a register of lobbyists and whistleblowers' legislation.

Irish Independent

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