Journalist Sam Smyth wrote the following very interesting letter in today’s Irish Times in response to a recent article (Welcome to Lowryland) in that paper.
The feature on the cover of the Weekend Review (May 5th), “Welcome to Lowryland”, assumes that a legal action taken against me by Michael Lowry has still to be heard.
The legal action against me was finally dismissed in February this year when the president of the High Court ruled against Mr Lowry’s appeal of a decision in my favour made in the Circuit Court.
There is no legal forum open for him to lodge a further appeal.
Mr Lowry is also liable for my legal costs in both defamation hearings.
Mr Lowry chose to launch his legal action against me personally rather than litigate with the newspaper and television station that published the remarks he claimed were defamatory.
His decision not to sue Independent Newspapers suggests that his priorities were to silence me rather than seek compensation.
Yet in “poor me” pleadings in his interview with journalist Colm Keena, Mr Lowry claims that Independent Newspapers led a campaign against him.
Mr Lowry was a senior government minister, the most successful fundraiser in Fine Gael’s history, a potential leader and perhaps even a potential taoiseach when I wrote a story in 1996 telling how he had taken secret payments worth £395,000 from the country’s biggest retailer.
He had to resign from office in disgrace in November 1996, and in March 2011 the final report of the Moriarty tribunal detailed findings of various clandestine attempts by Denis O’Brien to enrich Michael Lowry by more than £900,000.
I wrote the original story in 1996 and enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the then editor of the Irish Independent, the late Vincent Doyle, because I believed that the facts then known showed Mr Lowry was not a fit person for high office.
Further revelations such as Mr Lowry’s €1.4 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners and Mr Justice Moriarty’s findings of fact in his tribunal’s final report have confirmed my opinion of the Independent TD for Tipperary North.
In his interview with Colm Keena, where the truth plays hide-and-seek with wishful thinking, Mr Lowry made many curious remarks and none more self-serving than his assertion that Mr Justice Moriarty was wrong in his findings.
In the interview, Mr Lowry said: “The Moriarty report will not withstand a judicial test.” Mr Lowry (and others against whom adverse findings were made in the final report of the Moriarty tribunal) had the option of taking a judicial review to challenge the chairman’s findings.
None chose to challenge in the courts the findings of fact in Mr Justice Moriarty’s final report.