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Shatter refusing to say he had meeting with shamed Lowry

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter is refusing to reveal whether he has met with disgraced TD Michael Lowry.

Controversy erupted last week when it emerged fellow cabinet members Phil Hogan, James Reilly and Michael Noonan met with Mr Lowry.

But Mr Shatter has remained tight-lipped, insisting he is not participating in the "agenda" of Independent Newspapers, publishers of the Herald.

The affair has been a source of tension between Fine Gael and Labour, following the heavy criticism of Mr Lowry in the Moriarty Tribunal report.

Mr Lowry was lobbying the Government for a massive casino in his Tipperary North constituency last year and asked to meet Mr Shatter at that time.

However, Mr Shatter's response to questions on the matter was: "As Minister for Justice I am not participating in Independent Newspapers' agenda."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it is up to ministers to respond to media queries as they see fit.

When it was revealed Environment Minister Phil Hogan met Mr Lowry, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Health Minister Dr James Reilly admitted they also held meetings with the former Fine Gael TD.

Mr Shatter is the only cabinet member who did not say whether he had a meeting with Independent TD Mr Lowry.

Casino

Mr Lowry sought a meeting on behalf of the promoters of the €450m casino project with Mr Shatter last October.

It came after the minister unveiled new laws effectively ruling out the super casino.

The Tipperary Venue site is located in Two-Mile Borris, 9km from Thurles. The proposals were scaled down in the wake of Mr Shatter's new legislation.

Mr Lowry defended his right to meet Government ministers.

His encounter with Mr Hogan came just days after the publication of the Moriarty Tribunal report.

Mr Lowry brought a business group to the Custom House for talks in March last year, just six days after findings against him were published.

Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan said he accepted that the meeting was scheduled well in advance of the report's publication.

"But obviously it would be better for Phil Hogan if that meeting had not happened," he added.

Labour's Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said she would have preferred if the meeting had not gone ahead.

"I have said that I think the Government does have to be conscious of how people against whom adverse findings have been made by tribunals of inquiry, how these people interact with members of the Government," she said.

comurphy@herald.ie


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