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“Denis O’Brien and Lowry had ‘Corrupt’ relationship” – Moriarty Tribunal, via O’Brien

Read more about: Broadband and Telecoms, Feature Gallery, Ireland, Irish Politics, News, Parties, Scandal, Tribunals     Print This Post

Someone has finally reported on the contents of the Moriarty Tribunal’s Preliminary Report – it has been under media embargo since November.

Mark Tighe of the Sunday Times interviewed Denis O’Brien who helpfully revealed some of the embargoed contents. The story is summed up in the opening two paragraphs (a sign of a well-written piece) – it doesn’t bode well for Lowry or O’Brien…

The Moriarty tribunal has found that the state’s award of the second mobile-phone licence was illegal, and has made 60 negative findings against Denis O’Brien, the businessman who was a key figure in the successful bid by the Esat Digifone consortium.

The revelation of the findings has been made by O’Brien himself in an interview with The Sunday Times. He said preliminary findings by the tribunal effectively state that the Esat consortium was “illegally” issued with the state’s second mobile-phone licence because he had a “corrupt” relationship with Michael Lowry, the then Fine Gael minister for communications.

– Of course, this all refers to embargoed preliminary findings which are therefore still somewhat officially unofficial. – strictly speaking Tighe only reported the contents of the interview, not the contents of the preliminary report… however, both The ST and O’Brien may still be in for some hairdryer treatment from the Tribunal.

When the Tribunal does publish this information the State will hit with some serious lawsuits from the companies who bid for the license and lost, we’re talking far more than six-figure sums here, these will be massive. It could potentially be another very serious financial burden for the State/taxpayer to carry.

The comments made by O’Brien in the interview – and the simple fact that he leaked the contents – are yet more attempts to undermine the credibility of the Tribunal, something Lowry has also attempted to do in the recent past.

From the perspective of a political junkie, it’ll be interesting to observe the level of effectiveness this predictable tactic from Lowry and O’Brien – get the punches in before the bell, don’t even bother to touch gloves – may or may not have once the findings begin to impact party politics. In a strange way, it’s possible that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will look to spin against the Tribunal – Lowry, although effectively forced to resign from the party, was an FG minister at the time, he is now helping prop up the FF-led Government. I’m not at all sure how FG will play it…

Either way, neither of the big two have the high moral ground here, Labour will have a field day.

What will happen with Lowry in the next few months?

How do FG handle this?

What happens to Lowry’s stable of councillors? If they went in with him knowing his history will they stick around, or will the heat get too much?

Comments will be watched closely on this one and may be edited or deleted without notice, the Tribunal is on-going and the reports contents remain unofficial.

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7 Responses to ““Denis O’Brien and Lowry had ‘Corrupt’ relationship” – Moriarty Tribunal, via O’Brien”

  1. # Comment by EWI Jul 26th, 2009 14:07

    In a strange way, it’s possible that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will look to spin against the Tribunal – Lowry, although effectively forced to resign from the party, was an FG minister at the time, he is now helping prop up the FF-led Government. I’m not at all sure how FG will play it…

    I foresee the burying of both Moriarity and the FF-specific tribunal reports in the next while. Mutually Assured Destruction’s something that the professional political class will be eager to avoid, especially in these times when the private sector is unlikely to have much cash to spare to employ ex-politicos. I would, however, guess that if true this will mean the end for Lowry’s re-joining FG in a FG-Lab coalition government.

    On the interview; I doubt O’Brien – and what percentage of the Irish news media has he bought in the last ten years, again? – has much to fear from any legal action, given the battalions of lawyers available at his beck and call. The ST, however, should be looking over their shoulder right about now, I suspect.

  2. # Comment by EWI Jul 26th, 2009 17:07

    Btw, just spotted the SBP on the newspaper rack in a newsagent, along with an interview (another one?) with O’Brien. The personal highlight for me was his claim in it that he is concerned for (i) the reputation of the country and (ii) the career prospects of civil servants who may have colluded in any wrondoing by himself and Lowry.

    Such patriotism and noble selflessness on behalf of billionaire Irish tax-exiles under investigation for corruption is to be applauded, I feel.

  3. # Comment by simon Jul 26th, 2009 21:07

    lowry and his councillors will be be fine in North Tipp. No one really cares water under the bridge and all that.

  4. # Comment by Colm Jul 27th, 2009 06:07

    It’ll be hard for FG to disentangle themselves from this. They may have distanced themselves from Lowry but the reality is he is still seen as gene-pool FG. More recently Ivan Yeats taking the morning slot on the O’Brien owned Newstalk is a very high profile link between the party and O’Brien. There is no sign of Flood/Mahon producing a report any time soon so I’d say the FF attack dogs will want to make up some ground on this.

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