Sunday 21 January 2018

Michael McDowell: Deafening silence from government and RTE

In a major analysis, Michael McDowell says publication of the Lowry Tapes is a matter of huge public importance

Michael McDowell

The secretly taped conversation between Michael Lowry and Kevin Phelan, which occurred apparently in 2004, tells us a lot about what happened behind the scenes between some of the dramatis personae in the Moriarty tribunal. While Michael Lowry now insists that the payment of almost £250,000 to Mr Phelan which features in the conversation was a payment that was "fully declared" (whatever that means), he has been careful not to dispute that the voice on the tape is his, and he has not suggested that the tape was doctored in any way, or that he did not use the words attributed to him in the transcripts of the tape which were published in the Sunday Independent.

It was only when excerpts from the tape were broadcast in their original form on the Vincent Browne programme on TV3 that the penny dropped in the minds of the Irish public that they were actually listening to an expletive-laden, foul-mouthed plea by an elected Irish public representative to an obscure land speculator for confirmation that the speculator had not taken any steps which could link him in any way with the Doncaster Rovers land deal then being investigated by the Moriarty tribunal.

That investigation formed part of its enquiries as to whether Denis O'Brien, who had an interest in the Doncaster development (which, we hear, he has finally disposed of just this month), was using, or had used or had intended to use, the Doncaster land deal to enrich Michael Lowry, whom the tribunal found had wrongfully intervened as minister in the interests of Mr O'Brien in a competitive licensing process in which Mr O'Brien's consortium had been successful.

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