Posted by Elaine Byrne
The Moriarty Tribunal has described Michael Lowry’s actions in influencing the awarding of the mobile phone licence as “disgraceful” and “insidious”.
The tribunal found that his influence was both direct, in his “disgraceful action in bringing a guillotine down on the work of the Project Group” and “indirect and insidious”, arising from his interaction with the chairman of the Project Group, and his intimation of his views on the second-ranked consortium and on how Esat Digifone’s financial problems could be met.
The Moriarty Report states that it is “beyond doubt” that Michael Lowry imparted substantive information to Denis O’Brien which was “of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence”.
(Ch 60.20 p 1050)
The report makes reference to Mr. O’Brien’s companies contributing £22,140 in donations to Fine Gael between 1995 and 1996. Observing their “conspicuous support” of Fine Gael fundraising events in early 1995 “succeeded” in raising the his company profile to an “appreciable degree” which was not “remotely matched” by members of other bidding consortia.
(Chap 60.19, p 1050)
The Moriarty Tribunal report has found that Michael Lowry, TD, displayed “an appreciable interest” in the process and had “irregular interactions with interested parties at its most sensitive stages”. It also found that Mr Lowry sought and received substantive information on emerging trends and made his preferences on the leading candidates known.
To my mind this report will potentially be very damaging for Ireland’s international reputation. The IMF defines state capture as the influence of private interests on the formulation of public policies, laws and regulations of the state for their own advantage. The Moriarty Tribunal suggests that an appropriation of public policy for private purposes may have occured.