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.
A Commons committee, after investigating for less than a year, have found that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to run a major international business.
Meanwhile, back in the banana republic of Ireland a tribunal, after 14 years and costing countless millions, found that businessman Denis O’Brien had been involved in some very dodgy dealings with Michael Lowry.
No action has ever been taken (or will be) against Mr. O’Brien.
He remains a man of high standing (although that’s not difficult in a country of such low standards) and a great buddy of the present government.
Michael Martin, traitor and leader of the most corrupt political party in Ireland, a party that is principally responsible for the destruction of the country, a party that never, ever condemns its own corrupt members like, for example, the criminal Haughey.
So it should have been easy for even the most inexperienced greenhorn journalist to completely destroy the hypocritical arguments put forward by this low grade politician when he tries to occupy the high moral ground in respect of Michael Lowry and the Moriarty Tribunal Report.
On his radio show this morning Pat Kenny failed abjectly in this respect.
Martin easily waffled his way around the weak and mostly irrelevant challenges offered by Kenny, for example.
Kenny accused Martin of hypocrisy given that Fianna Fail, who are now condemning Lowry, were more than willing to do business with him while in government.
Martin responded by saying that those dealings took place before the publication of the Moriarty Tribunal Report:
Every person before any tribunal is accorded the right to have their case heard by the tribunal and one does not sit on judgement on that until the tribunal reports.
The delivery of this cynical and dishonest argument was the cue for any greenhorn journalist to close the trap by simply putting it to Martin that Lowry’s reputation had been utterly destroyed years ago after the publication of the McCracken Report.
Kenny, apparently completely unaware of Lowry’s shady past involving tax evasion, lying and planning irregularities, let Martin off the hook by accepting his ridiculous argument.
In a mostly self-serving article Irish Times columnist Sarah Carey has admitted that she lied to the Moriarty Tribunal (more on the lie later).
In the article, Ms. Carey, who used to work for Denis O’Brien, says that corporate fundraising should be banned not because of any danger of corruption but because it would stop all the innuendo and accusation surrounding the practice.
It is disturbing that an opinion maker like Ms. Carey, writing for such a prestigious and influential newspaper like the Irish Times, is so naive as to suggest that corporate/political fundraising in Ireland is transparent and honest, that all the corrupt events of the last number of decades is based on nothing more than innuendo and (false?) accusations.
Clearly, Ms. Carey is ignorant of or chooses to ignore the avalanche of corruption that has blighted the people of Ireland over the last number of decades primarily due to the very cosy and to a large degree, corrupt relationship between business and politics.
Indeed, she appears to be blissfully unaware of the fact that it is this diseased relationship that is principally responsible for the destruction of our country and the impoverishment of generations of Irish citizens to come.
Ms. Carey’s admission that she lied to the Tribunal is interesting because, to my knowledge, she gave evidence under oath. If that is the case then surely she has committed perjury?
Or perhaps not because in Ireland perjury is not so much a general crime as a crime that seems to be strictly confined to ‘ordinary’ citizens.
Take the case of poor old Thomas Morey for example.
Morey was given a one year jail term for perjury for refusing to give evidence in a murder trial; he claimed he couldn’t remember the night in question (A common enough excuse, I’m sure you will agree).
But that wasn’t the end for poor old Morey. The Court of Criminal Appeal found that the sentence was too lenient and hauled Morey back to court with the intention of imposing a much stiffer sentence on this ‘ordinary’ citizen.
One of the judges said:
It was important for a functioning society that people required to give evidence in criminal proceedings should do so.
Granted, this is a criminal case involving murder but there are other less serious cases where ‘ordinary’ citizens have been severely punished for lying under oath.
To my knowledge, despite years and years of tribunals and other sworn investigations in which lying under oath was the order of the day, not a single person from the political, business or media world has been charged with perjury.
So even if Ms. Carey lied under oath and I stress, if, she has nothing to worry about because her lies were uttered within a special realm where politicians, businessmen, legal personnel, media people and even policemen can lie under oath with impunity.
On Thursday last I wrote about Denis O’Brien’s extremely serious allegation that the judiciary had put a ring of steel around Justice Moriarty because they knew he was never up to the job.
During an interview with Pat Kenny (Friday) O’Brien initially seemed to withdraw the allegation when Kenny suggested it would be an appalling vista if the entire judiciary were to collude against one man.
You’ve got to separate the wider judiciary from Justice Moriarty. I believe I was stitched by Justice Moriarty but I’m not in any way critical of the wider judicial community.
It’s a measure of O’Brien’s lack of mental coordination that, minutes later, he repeated the allegation when Kenny again suggested he take his case to the courts.
Look, do you know a lot about the legal profession, the judiciary and the Law Society. There’s a code amongst them all that they don’t take each other on, they don’t criticise each other.
There’s a ring of steel around Moriarty because they knew, the judiciary knew, that he was never up to the job, he’s a Circuit Court judge.
As I wrote on Thursday, in a real democracy with proper law enforcement O’Brien would by now find himself before a judge explaining his accusations.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has responded to the hysterical rants of O’Brien and Lowry regarding Justice Moriarty and the judiciary in general saying:
Statements which endanger public confidence in our judiciary and in our courts are entirely unacceptable and are to be deplored.
Legal expert Professor Gerry Whyte of Trinity Law School said that if criticism of the judiciary went so far as to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice then we’re talking about an offence called scandalising the court.
If Minister Shatter genuinely thinks the comments are unacceptable then he should immediately initiate proceedings against O’Brien and Lowry.
On The Late Debate last Tuesday Irish Times journalist Colm Keena related an incredible story of how Denis O’Brien was blackmailed over alleged false documentation to the Moriarty Tribunal.
There was a fellow up in the North called Kevin Phelan, he didn’t give evidence to the tribunal but according to the judge he knew that some of the documentation that had been given to the tribunal was false and had been doctored.
He used that information to put pressure on Denis O’Brien and was paid 150,000 Sterling by Denis O’Brien in what the judge said was an effort to get him to desist from his threats to undermine the stories that had been told to the tribunal.
The following extremely serious accusation was made against the Irish judiciary by businessman Denis O’Brien on live television (Six One News, 34.10).
This judge (Michael Moriarty) is flawed…you have to challenge and I don’t care who it is, a judge when he’s flawed.
I lost my challenges against this judge because the judiciary have put a ring of steel around him because they know he was never up to the job of actually writing this report and subsequently said’ God, we better protect this man’.
In a real democracy with proper law enforcement O’Brien would by now find himself before a judge explaining his accusations.
The first and most important thing to be said about the Moriarty Report is that nobody will be made accountable. This, of course, is no accident.
While tribunals have power to produce facts they are specifically prevented from bringing the guilty to account. Any subsequent police investigation is barred from using evidence uncovered by the tribunal. In other words, they must begin the entire investigation again without any assistance whatsoever from the tribunal report.
Of course, there will be no Gardai investigation; Irish police do not concern themselves with the activities of politicians or white collar individuals, it’s a well established tradition.
Now that the report has been published we will move into the next phase – discussion.
Just as tribunals are designed to sideline proper investigation into serious corruption and the ban on police using tribunal evidence has the effect of protecting the guilty, national discussion, conducted through a largely captured media, is designed to allow everybody to indulge in the great Irish tradition of pretending that Ireland is a functional, democratic state.
Miriam O’Callaghan set the ball rolling tonight on Prime Time by asking a question she has asked on countless occasions in the past concerning an endless line of previous scandals – Do you think there will be criminal charges?
Pat Rabbitte, just like dozens of politicians before him intoned in a sombre voice, well I hope so.
Gay (Mad) Mitchell suggested that Mary Robinson should investigate the tribunal report, picking out those parts which, in her opinion, could be forwarded to the DPP.
So, an investigation into an investigation to be forwarded to another state agency for yet another investigation, sounds familiar.
The absolutely critical factor in all this farce is – never, ever allow reality to impinge on the delusions of the nation.
Gavin, my nephew, continues to do Trojan work on his Freedom of Information campaign and is beginning to get noticed by the wider media.
Here’s a report from the Sunday Times on 24th January.
Blogger gets big discount on the price of freedom
Hats off to Gavin Sheridan, the blogger who has embarrassed the Moriarty tribunal into posting all the transcripts of 370 days of public sittings on the internet.
Sheridan first applied for the transcripts to the Department of An Taoiseach, under Freedom of Information.
It refused on the basis that they can be purchased from Doyle Court Reporters.
Doyles quoted a fee of €16,600 with a discount of 25% for anyone bulk buying.
“I did suggest that since the public had already paid nearly €1 million for the transcripts, it seemed a little odd that I, as a citizen, have to fork out another €16,600 to get copies.”
Sheridan writes on thestorey.ie.
Talk to the Moriarty tribunal, it suggested. So he did, and they said copyright rested with Doyles.
They later relented, offering Sheridan a disc with the transcripts, but such was the volume of requests that the tribunal is now posting everything online.
A small, but significant victory for freedom of information.
Some questions that come to mind.
What kind of contract does Doyle Court Reporters have with the state and how is it that the Moriarty Tribunal can, on the one hand, say that DCR have copyright and then, on the other hand, publish all the material?
Letter today’s Irish Times.
Is Elaine Byrne suggesting that it might be better if the Moriarty tribunal didn’t make any adverse findings against the State (Opinion, July 28th)? She speaks of embarrassment, and perceptions on the international stage and suggests that the final findings will be practically irrelevant anyway.
She ends by asserting:
“The challenge is to distinguish between systemic and individual corruption; petty and grand corruption; moral and legal corruption; and rumours and reality of corruption.”
I disagree. The real challenge is that, for once, we face up to reality and do what all other accountable democracies do – prosecute and mete out appropriate punishment to those found guilty of corruption. – Yours, etc.