Wednesday 21 March 2018

Loyal base has helped TD survive scandals down years

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

MICHAEL Lowry (59) has always had an ability to come up with an explanation for any of his many political difficulties.

He has several targets, with the Dublin media and the Moriarty Tribunal being among his favourites.

But despite being at the centre of enough scandals to sink a regular politician, and being censured by the Dail in 2011, he has always survived.

His supporters proudly point out that he is still going strong despite being investigated by tribunals, gardai and the Revenue over the course of the past 20 years.

The Tipperary native began work as an apprentice refrigeration engineer in Thurles and went on to set up his own company. He was credited with clearing the debt for Semple Stadium in Tipperary by holding the "Trip to Tipp" music festival there.

First elected to the Dail for Fine Gael in 1987, he was made communications minister when the party got into coalition in 1995. But he had to resign in 1996 after the Irish Independent revealed that businessman Ben Dunne had paid for work on his home at Holycross, in Co Tipperary.


It led to him being called before the McCracken Tribunal into payments to politicians. And before long, he was also at the centre of the Moriarty Tribunal which was set up to investigate the awarding of the second mobile phone licence while he was minister.

The Moriarty Tribunal found he had "secured the winning" of the 1995 mobile licence for businessman Denis O'Brien's Esat Digifone company – a finding that both he and Mr O'Brien have denied.

Despite all the negative publicity, he has always promoted himself as a TD who "delivered" for his constituency. The voters of North Tipperary ensured he topped the poll in four successive general elections from 1997 to 2011.

He propped up the Fianna Fail-Green government as an Independent but turned this to his advantage by pointing to all the constituency projects he had got funding for.

But even in the current Dail term he has been the subject of complaints to the Standards in Public Office Commission about not declaring his ownership of land in England.

Irish Independent

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