Belfast Telegraph

Moriarty bug claim 'far-fetched'

Independent TD Michael Lowry has branded suggestions that phones at the Moriarty Tribunal were tapped as far-fetched.

The Tipperary North deputy said the tribunal was suffering from paranoia after gardai found no evidence the lines were bugged in the weeks before Judge Michael Moriarty published his hard-hitting report.

And on the eve of a two-day Dail debate on the damning findings, the TD, who has faced repeated calls to resign over the scandal, warned ministers and TDs that "Michael Lowry is not going anywhere".

"I have to say in relation to the phone tapping... this is another far-fetched suspicion of the tribunal," Mr Lowry said.

"I wasn't a bit surprised today when I found that it was unfounded.

"It was the tribunal that put it into the public domain. They obviously are suffering from some sort of bunker mentality and a bit of paranoia."

In his report, Mr Justice Moriarty detailed how the former minister and now Independent TD passed on classified information in 1995 to billionaire Denis O'Brien during his successful bid for the State's second mobile phone licence.

He was also found to have received a string of payments from accounts linked to Mr O'Brien.

Telecoms and surveillance officers were called in to examine if private lines, including that of inquiry chairman Mr Justice Moriarty, had been bugged in the Dublin Castle offices in the weeks before his damning report was published.

It is understood there appeared to be an echo on the line which sparked fears that someone outside had compromised security or was listening in.

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