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What is it about Lowry that North Tipp voters don't get?

MICHAEL Lowry tops the poll in North Tipperary. This week a tribunal said he was venal, cynical and corrupt.

Luckily, Michael had an explanation -- a High Court judge was being a big meanie. The people of North Tipp must have been relieved to hear that. Because otherwise it would have meant their favourite son was bent as a nine pound note.

Michael explained that what the tribunal said was based on lies. Lots of lies. From lots of people. Luckily for Lowry -- and the people who elected him to the Dail -- he was thereby able to dismiss all the nasty stuff about interfering with the most valuable State contract in history, the stuff about taking cash from businessmen and the stuff about peddling influence for major donors to his party.

This leaves the people of Tipp North with only a few issues. Issues like him having pints with one of the people pitching for the most valuable contract in the State's history at the same time as his department was deciding who'd get it. Michael accepts that happened. We assume the voters of North Tipp don't mind, they probably enjoy the odd pint themselves.

Then there's the issue of him evading £300,000 of tax. Michael accepts that happened. We assume the voters of North Tipp have probably had their own problems with accounting (it a tricky thing, accountancy).

Michael accepts he paid €1.1m in fees and penalties on money that flowed into his off-shore accounts. We assume the voters of North Tipp have probably had issues declaring their wealth in banks in the Isle of Man.

Likewise he accepts receiving hundreds of thousands in 'loans,' one of which -- for £147,000 -- he paid back the week a tribunal was set up to investigate him. We assume the voters of North Tipp also get loans of nearly €250,000 and pay them back when the authorities start asking questions. We assume all this about the voters of North Tipp because otherwise there is no reason why an electorate could do something so mind-bendingly bizarre as electing Michael Lowry.

Callely on the long road back

IVOR Callely is back. You'll remember Ivor had a bit of hassle. It related to his expenses for travel from his home. In West Cork. Everyone thought he lived in Clontarf.

When a Senate committee told Ivor they didn't believe him and suspended him, he took them to the High Court which promptly gave him back nearly 20 grand in lost wages.

In the ensuing months we sort of forgot Ivor. Which you would have thought from his perspective was a good thing.

Nope. Ivor marched into the Senate yesterday, launched into a speech about the wrongs that have been done to him and got thrown out of a Senate which then closed for the day. Ivor never got to make his point about justice. Which in itself is a terrible shame.

But it's made so much worse when you realise that to speak for only three minutes poor Senator Callely had to drive all the way from West Cork.

What a load of independents

AFTER an election that returned a record number of Independents to the Dail, we're starting to get a picture of their policies.

They're well-thought-out, nationally important and just the kind of thing the country needs.

First came Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, who declared himself to be still pro-pot, despite becoming personally weed-free.

He was followed by Mick Wallace, who has announced that not only is he a spliff-supporter but that he's also eager to see prostitution legalised.

One can only hope the Independents are building on each other's policy platforms, because maybe then we can look forward to Richard Boyd Barrett declaring himself to be pro-weed, hookers and bullfighting only to see him topped by Joe Higgins announcing he's pro marijuana, streetwalkers, blood sports and assault-rifles.