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Saturday 20 January 2018

Sinn Fein call on Government to censure Lowry

The Government has been urged to table a motion formally condemning Independent TD Michael Lowry over the damming Moriarty Tribunal findings.

Ahead of a two-day Dail debate on Justice Michael Moriarty's hard-hitting report, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams accused the Government of preventing discussion on the findings.

Mr Lowry said he is prepared to answer any question put to him and has refused repeated calls to resign over the scandal.

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein would be calling on the Government to lay down a motion of censure against the Tipperary North deputy.

"In my own view whatever Michael Lowry is guilty or not guilty of, what we are dealing with is a culture of corruption," the Sinn Fein president said.

"It is an insight into how the golden circles function. The Government are preventing, totally contrary to their stated views, any serious debate or discussion on these issues."

In his report, Mr Justice Moriarty detailed how the former minister and now Independent TD passed on classified information in 1995 to billionaire Denis O'Brien during his successful bid for the State's second mobile phone licence.

He was also found to have received a string of payments from accounts linked to Mr O'Brien.

Mr Lowry, who has strongly rejected the Tribunal's findings, yesterday demanded more Dail time to make his case.

He said Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe had offered him 30 minutes speaking time, but the Tipperary North deputy said he needs 50 minutes.

The Whip's office said Mr Lowry will speak for one hour tonight and be given another 20 minute slot tomorrow afternoon. However there will be no formal opportunity for Mr Lowry to be quizzed during the debate by TDs.

The Government faced criticisms after it was speculated that Communications and Labour Party minister Pat Rabbitte would be answering questions on behalf of the Government during the debate.

But a spokeswoman said Taoiseach Enda Kenny will now be available for questions at the conclusion tomorrow on behalf of Fine Gael.

Questions have been raised about the party's fundraising activities in the 1990s after the tribunal investigated 50,000 US dollars to Fine Gael weeks after the O'Brien consortium secured the licence.

Mr Adams said the party was dissatisfied with the way the Government was handling the debate.

"This is a government which stood on a manifesto of political reform. This is its first test. It failed that test," he said.

"It refused to have any proper debate last week. The arrangements for debate this week are totally and absolutely inadequate."

Press Association

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