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Hogan lashed on talks with disgraced Lowry

MINISTER Phil Hogan was under intense pressure today to justify a meeting he held with disgraced TD Michael Lowry just six days after the publication of the Moriarty Report.

It has emerged that the Environment Minister met Mr Lowry for an hour in the wake of the report -- to discuss farm waste.

It was the longest meeting that Mr Hogan held with any politician last year.

A spokesperson for the minister said he "rejects any suggestion that this meeting was inappropriate or secretive".

"It was a routine meeting held to discuss the farm scheme," he said.

Mr Hogan hosted Mr Lowry in the Customs House in March last year just days after the Moriarty Tribunal ruled that the Tipperary TD received IR£447,000 from businessman Denis O'Brien before helping him secure a lucrative mobile phone licence.

The former minister was strongly condemned by the Moriarty Tribunal over his connections with Denis O'Brien.

Using words such as "insidious" and "indiscreet", Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said it was "beyond doubt" that Mr Lowry imparted information that was of "significant assistance" in securing the country's second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone. Mr Hogan's department spokesperson today sought to defend the meeting, while a senior minister admitted that it would be "better" for Mr Hogan if it never took place.

The meeting lasted for over an hour and was attended a group including Jack O'Reilly -- the director of recycling firm Filmco.

It was longer than meetings held with global corporate bosses, such as Google chief Eric Schmidt.

However Mr Hogan's spokesperson today rejected any suggestions that the meeting was inappropriate, adding that it was held only to discuss a farm waste scheme.

The meeting - held in the Customs House on March 28 - went ahead despite huge criticism of Mr Lowry from all political circles.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald today called on Mr Hogan to explain the meeting, adding that it was not appropriate.

And Sports Minister Jimmy Deenihan said that it would be "better" for his Cabinet colleague if the meeting had never taken place.

Michael Lowry did not respond to calls by the Herald today.