Sunday 22 September 2019

Michael Lowry’s sentence for tax offences ‘a chicken feed fine’

Ruth Coppinger
Ruth Coppinger

Cate McCurry

The sentencing handed down to Independent TD Michael Lowry for tax offences has been blasted as a “chicken feed fine” by Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger criticised the 25,000 euro fine issued to Mr Lowry after he was found guilty of a tax offence and failing to keep proper books of account.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dail on Wednesday that tax offences are “serious crimes” as he faced questions over Mr Lowry’s sentence.

Ms Coppinger, a Dublin West TD, said: “There was a case where a member of the Dail was sentenced for filing false tax return, failing to keep proper company accounts, falsifying accounts and yet receives a chicken feed fine in the context of his wealth and a pat on the back from the judge rather than a rap on the knuckles, saying he was a great TD.

“I think we are seeing is one law for the rich, another for the poor.

“That is the conclusion of workers all around the country following this case.”

Mr Varadkar said that Mr Lowry got a “fair trial” which resulted in a conviction.

“When somebody commits a tax offence, they’re not just taking money from one person, they are taking money from all of society,” he added.

In an earlier exchange, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin pressed Mr Varadkar about “deals” between independent TDs and the government in return for their support.

Mr Martin said: “Why do you continue to hide information about the non-written deals, we know that Deputy Lowry has never voted against the government.

“Can you commit to publishing information in relation to assistance given so that speculation can be cleared up.”

Responding to Mr Martin’s question, the Taoiseach said there was “nothing to publish and nothing to hide”.

“We have no formal agreement, written or verbal, with any independent TD.”

He told the Dail that Mr Lowry has voted against the Government on 10 occasions in the last two years and with the Government 89 times.

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