Belfast Telegraph

Tribunal brands rent deal corrupt

An inquiry into payments to politicians has branded a rent deal linked to an Independent TD and businessman Ben Dunne as profoundly corrupt.

The Moriarty Tribunal found that Michael Lowry sought to influence a hike in the lease for Marlborough House in Dublin - home to Telecom Eireann in the 1990s - following a request from Mr Dunne.

The inquiry found that these rent increases would have improperly enriched Mr Dunne.

The findings were contained in the second and final report from the tribunal set up in 1997 to investigate the financial affairs of late Taoiseach Charles Haughey and separately Mr Lowry.

It examined the awarding of the second mobile phone licence in Ireland to billionaire telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien in 1995.

The tribunal ruled that then communications minister Mr Lowry was less than discreet and less cautious than might have been advisable in his dealings with interested parties ahead of the licence being granted.

The tribunal severely attacked Mr Lowry's evidence on the licence award and said it had no hesitation in rejecting it.

It found that, in order to ensure fairness in the process of selecting an operator, a project group was set up involving Government officials supported by specialist consultants free of political or other influences.

But it also found that, while it was decided the process should be "sealed" with information remaining confidential within the group, this "seal" was breached on a series of occasions.

It said: "It is clear that substantive information was also made available to Mr M Lowry who, contrary to his testimony to the tribunal, was far from being a disinterested minister, but in fact exhibited an appreciable curiosity about the substantive process as it was proceeding, and sought, and was provided with, information by members of the project group."


From Belfast Telegraph