Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Kenny: Lowry must face allegations

Independent TD Michael Lowry has defied calls to quit politics for helping a businessman secure a mobile phone licence

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has claimed his shamed former Cabinet colleague Michael Lowry would quit politics in "an ideal world".

The Independent TD has defied calls to resign after the Moriarty tribunal found he helped billionaire Denis O'Brien secure the State's second mobile phone licence in 1995.

Mr Kenny said he wanted Mr Lowry to be forced to answer damning criticisms that he passed on sensitive information during the bid process and that he received more than £800,000 from accounts linked to Mr O'Brien, but the Taoiseach conceded: "We don't live in an ideal world."

"I consider it absolutely essential that Deputy Lowry answer in the House in respect of the allegations and comments made about him in the Moriarty tribunal," the Taoiseach said.

The mammoth report is being examined by top fraud squad officers, the Revenue Commissioners and Director of Public Prosecutions James Hamilton.

But Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has warned it is premature to expect criminal charges against anyone singled out for wrongdoing.

The Commissioner said senior gardai would hold talks with the DPP on possible prosecutions, adding: "It's not an investigation per se, we are looking and examining the report with a view to establishing whether there are any criminal offences disclosed and obviously we will await that report."

The tribunal also highlighted a 50,000 US dollar (35,000 euro) donation from Norwegian telecoms group Telenor - part of Mr O'Brien's winning Esat Digifone consortium - to Fine Gael, which was subsequently repaid.

Under the rules of a tribunal of inquiry, none of the evidence given or findings made can be used to directly bring a criminal prosecution.

Judge Moriarty separately accused Mr Lowry of attempting "breathtaking corruption" when he tried to double the rental value of a property owned by businessman Ben Dunne which was leased to the State.

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