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