'Tortured' Lowry rejects report's findings
INDEPENDENT TD Michael Lowry last night insisted again he had not engaged in any wrongdoing in relation to the awarding of the second mobile phone licence.
This put him directly at odds with the tribunal's finding that as Communications Minister, he had "influenced" and "delivered" the licence for businessman Denis O'Brien's Esat Digifone consortium.
But in his hour-long Dail speech last night, he rejected all of the findings against him and criticised the "negative impact" the Moriarty Tribunal had had on his personal and professional life during the past 14 years.
"This Chinese torture has taken an enormous toll on me in every respect," he said.
Mr Lowry and all other TDs had been warned earlier in the day by Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett not to use their parliamentary privilege --which protects them from being sued -- to make serious allegations against judges.
But Mr Lowry spent much of his speech criticising Judge Michael Moriarty and his "team of multi-millionaire lawyers" who he said had shared in a €45m bounty in fees.
Mr Lowry said the tribunal report did not stand up to scrutiny in the local pub, let alone an esteemed courtroom.
"I know it to be wrong and I will not cower in some dark corner after being kicked from pillar to post and refuse to call a spade a spade," he said.
Mr Lowry denied the tribunal finding that he had received benefits worth IR£900,000 from Esat Digifone founder Mr O'Brien from two property deals and a loan arrangement.
"Let me make it quite clear here tonight, you can send in CAB, you can send in the Army, you can send in who you like to investigate my affairs, after all of these investigations, and there'll be no IR£900,000 found because it was never there and it's not there," he said.
In the script of his speech circulated beforehand -- but not delivered in the Dail -- Mr Lowry said he had no intention of resigning as a TD -- despite the prospect of a motion calling on him to do so from Sinn Fein.
"I will not walk away from the overwhelming mandate that was given to me by the constituents of North Tipperary/South Offaly," Mr Lowry said.
However, Mr Lowry indicated that he would be seeking some time out after the events of the past week.
"I intend to take a short time to myself to rest my mind, heal my body and renew my spirit," he said.