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Sam Smyth: Remorse an alien concept despite calls to resign

Sorry is the hardest word, but Michael Lowry could have used "regret", or even "maybe I could have done it another way".

But there was no apology, no remorse or contrition in the Dail yesterday before an all-party motion calling on him to resign was heard.

Mr Lowry could have seized the moment and acknowledged that, on reflection, he might have done some things differently.

Anyone standing friendless among his peers will always evoke some sympathy, even from the most trenchant critics.

The vast majority of TDs do not like seeing one of their own singled out for a deeply humiliating and shaming procedure.

And a number of colleagues, including old friends, really wanted him to give them a reason not to brand him a pariah.

Yet, despite flitting from indignant anger to "poor me" when he addressed the Dail, there was something deeply depressing, even pathetic, about his demeanour.

Rather than reflect on the enormity of the findings against him and the sheer scale of the damage he has done, Mr Lowry slipped into his default mode -- self-pity.

Michael Lowry doesn't do shame -- but he does Victim, with a capital "V".

The disgraced former minister took eight minutes to reiterate his innocence and deliver a defiant two-fingers to the parliament he was elected to serve in.

He told the Dail that he had suffered 14 years of abuse, vilification, and humiliation as a result of the Moriarty Tribunal.

"I am not a criminal," he said yesterday.

Then Mr Lowry wrapped himself in the protection of civil servants, in the manner of a man warning you can't hit me, I've a baby in my arms.

"This report does me and the civil servants involved an extraordinary injustice," he said.

Mr Lowry then moved from poor-me to attack mode and lashed out at SF's Mary Lou McDonald and Micheal Martin, FF leader.

Those of us with functioning memories recall him being just as defiant and self-pitying when he lied to the Dail about not having offshore bank accounts back in 1996.

Back then, he looked a little startled and adopted the now familiar air of I'm-a-simple-man wronged by a pitiless and all-powerful establishment.

Back then, he also wove a web of flat denials, obfuscations, dog-ate-my-homework excuses and big fat lies.

He probably ran the same gamut of emotions when he made a IR£1.2m settlement with the Revenue Commissioners after the publication of the McCracken report in 1997.

It is hard to think of a better opportunity than yesterday's dramatic motion in the Dail for Mr Lowry to admit that he may have done something wrong.

He has a special talent for organisation and politics and had a lot to offer before he squandered a gift for public service on greed.

Mr Lowry is the first Irish politician against whom a High Court judge has made findings in a tribunal linking decisions he made to payments made to him.

Mr Justice McCracken described one of his actions as " corrupt" and now his peers want him to resign from the Dail.

Back in January, Mr Lowry lost a libel action he took against this reporter for calling him a liar and a tax cheat, but he has appealed the decision to the High Court.

Irish Independent