Lowry's firm loses lucrative Dunnes contract
MICHAEL Lowry's refrigeration business has lost its lucrative contract with Dunnes Stores.
The Irish Independent has learnt the Tipperary-based firm is no longer providing any services to the supermarket chain -- ending a strong link that dates back to the foundation of Mr Lowry's company 23 years ago.
Garuda, which trades under the name 'Streamline Enterprises', was established by Mr Lowry a year after he was first elected a Fine Gael TD.
For many years it operated exclusively on contracts provided by Dunnes Stores. The links between Michael Lowry and Dunnes Stores are long and controversial.
After establishing Garuda, the company was immediately awarded the contract for the supply and maintenance of refrigeration units in all Dunnes Stores outlets in the State by Ben Dunne.
The McCracken Tribunal -- which investigated payments from Mr Dunne to Mr Lowry -- said Mr Lowry's company was virtually subsumed into Dunnes Stores.
Between 1989 and 1992, Mr Lowry kept £35,000 intended for staff as Christmas bonuses from Ben Dunne.
In 1996, the Irish Independent revealed that refurbishment work at Mr Lowry's home at Holycross, Co Tipperary, which cost almost £400,000, was paid by Dunnes Stores. Mr Lowry resigned from cabinet where he had served as Transport, Energy and Communications Minister.
In 2005, Garuda reached a settlement with Revenue to pay over €1.26m in outstanding tax, interest and penalties, while Mr Lowry paid €192,120 in a personal capacity to the tax authorities.
Following the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal earlier this year, Mr Lowry is facing having to pay up to an estimated €10m in fees and costs.
It is understood Streamline has sufficient cash reserves to write down any future losses.