'I don't act or feel like a criminal... and will contest the next election' - TD Michael Lowry on his conviction
Independent TD Michael Lowry has confirmed he will contest the next general election despite his conviction this week over his tax affairs.
The Tipperary TD also said he did not "feel like a criminal".
Lowry and his company, Garuda, were this week fined a total of €25,000 having been convicted of two charges each of delivering an incorrect corporation tax return and failing to keep a proper set of accounts.
In his first full interview since the conclusion of the case in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Mr Lowry claimed the case should never have been pursued and also took issue with the fact that he was tried in the Criminal Courts of Justice.
Mr Lowry said he disliked the label of criminal.
"I don't act like a criminal, I don't feel like a criminal and I think the majority of people see me and they say that I'm not a criminal," he told the 'TippToday' programme on TippFM.
When asked whether he accepted he had done wrong, Mr Lowry said he got up every day to go out and "do good".
"I'm like any individual ... I'm a human, I have my faults, I have my weaknesses and on the other side of it I have my good points. I'm not a bad person, I have good intentions," he said, adding: "I accept anything that I did wrong."
Mr Lowry also said the conviction related to an overpayment of tax in 2006, due to an earlier missed invoice, and that there was no loss to the Exchequer.
The support of the people of Tipperary had sustained him throughout the past 22 years, he said.
"What lifted me and what kept me going was that friendly smile, that handshake ...I always got the type of encouragement that I needed," he said of his constituents.
Mr Lowry said he could have filled the courtroom throughout proceedings with "busloads" of supporters from his county but that he "wanted to respect the court". He claimed he had been overwhelmed with support in recent times, adding that many people were ready to canvass for him again.
Mr Lowry said he never signalled an intention to retire, adding that he likes what he does and that the "people of Tipperary will have the opportunity to support me or not", when the country next goes to the polls. Pundits predict that he will retain his seat with ease when an election is next held, despite his conviction.
In an extraordinary attack on the media, the TD alleged journalists were not interested in covering his defence - despite the trial being reported on each day by various news outlets. Referencing the packed courtroom on the day the verdict was handed down, he claimed journalists had turned up when they "smelled blood".
He claimed the media was unable to accept the outcome of the proceedings against him, having "vilified" him over the past two decades.
"The media have invested a lot of time in me. The bottom line is the Revenue were used as a vehicle to have another go at me. They orchestrated a situation where they brought me to court. But, look, the Revenue is the most powerful institution in the State, I took them on, I stood my ground and I won - the media have lost out, they're not able to accept it," he added.