Belfast Telegraph

Lowry accuses judge over inquiry

A former government minister has accused one of Ireland's most prestigious judges of using a 14-year long inquiry to prove a theory that he wrongly granted a lucrative mobile phone licence.

The now Independent TD Michael Lowry claimed Mr Justice Michael Moriarty outrageously abused the tribunal's ability to form opinions with no basis in fact.

With accusations of tax evasion and secret payments already haunting the popular politician, his reputation took another beating in the 2,230 page Moriarty report.

Rejecting the tenure of the findings, Mr Lowry maintained it was factually wrong and deliberately misleading.

"I have long believed that because of the time and massive expense involved with the tribunal that the final report would have to justify its existence," he said.

"This report is ultimately the opinion of the chairman and it has no basis in law."

Judge Moriarty found Mr Lowry assisted Denis O'Brien in his bid to secure a mobile phone contract for Esat Digifone in 1996.

Once a member of Fine Gael, Mr Lowry was forced to quit his Cabinet post in 1996 following disclosures that former supermarket magnate Ben Dunne paid for an extension to his house in Holycross, Co Tipperary.

Mr Lowry still disputes the findings of the earlier McCracken Tribunal which found, in 1997, that he evaded tax through the deal.

But the Moriarty inquiry into payments to politicians branded a rent deal linked with Mr Dunne as profoundly corrupt and found Mr O'Brien also made or facilitated payments to Mr Lowry.

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