The Moriarty Tribunal report

Posted by Elaine Byrne

The Moriarty Tribunal has published two reports today into Michael Lowry and Ben Dunne and Michael Lowry and Denis O’Brien

Some highlights:

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.

Thoughts?

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15 thoughts on “The Moriarty Tribunal report

  1. Although the report can not be a basis for prosecution, surely the evidence contained within (if true) is a basis for a Garda investigation, and the bringing to trial of alledged corrupters and corrupted.
    However, my worry is that it could be sustained that any report of this nature may automatically prejudice a trial.

    Also, won’t those who missed out on the licence now claim compensation from the state? If they do, could the state then sue Lowry personally for the damage?

  2. Fine Gael and Brutal don’t come out of this well – we still don’t know how Fine Gael turned a IR£2 million debt in 1994 into a IR£2 million surplus by 1997 – ie IR£4 million in donations over a 3 year period when it was in government.

    Should he be removed from the Dáil or should steps to impeach TDs be put in place.

    However, the hard truth is that he repeatedly topped the poll and if he had to stand for election tomorrow he would still top the poll, probably increase his vote.

    Why Irish people keep voting for the sort of people like Lowry is the issue that needs to be addressed.

    Because ironically the fact this report was finally relased, after the legal profession made sure they lined their pockets in multiples of anything Lowry received, shows that people like Lowry can be held to account, even if only in a modest reputational way.

  3. The Moriarty Tribunal has done more damage to the country than Lowry or Ben Dunne in any event we knew all this 13 years ago! I am more worried by the capture of the state by the legal eagles and hawks which continues to this very day and they will get up tomorrow morning and do the same thing. Tribunals equal legal gravy trains I would not believe a word of their reports. O’Brien gave 22,000 to FG in 95 and 96 big deal! So what! He probably gave more to a myriad of other charities, meanwhile barristers walk away with millions….. do they really think us Irish their own people are that stupid? I guess they feel anyone that would pay me ridiculous money for this stuff must be stupid or corrupt or afraid or all three. Complete “disgraceful’ waste of money this Moriarty gravy train, shame on them! The legal hegemony which is running amok in this country needs a complete overhaul and needs to be made fit for purpose which it certainly is not at the moment. First on the list must be the excising of their cosy monopoly.

    • @Robert Browne
      “The Moriarty Tribunal has done more damage to the country than Lowry or Ben Dunne in any event we knew all this 13 years ago! ”

      Are you serious?
      Consider the fact that our way of governing ourselves meant that we are in effective receivership. This is the real damage – that it has limited our options.

      In comparison, the Moriarty Tribunal report just lends more credence to the fact that we need to design, implement and use a series of checks and balances to limit the scope for excess by the powerful, whether they be public or private, elected or appointed in
      order to ;
      · ensure competence and moderation in government
      and
      · overcome inertia at government level, both national and local;
      so that our constitution is a framework for a free government that limits, restrains and allows for the exercise of political power, which we as citizens of a Republic own.

      We need to ensure that our way of governing ourselves has both
      · the means to be successful for the common good with increased democratic accountability
      and
      · the capacity and of adapting to the changes that constantly descend upon it.

      We citizens need to ensure that the state’s decision making-processes are structured and
      disciplined.
      We need to copper fasten new ways of governing ourselves to avoid the kind of muddling through, inertia, lack of foresight, and reversal that marks previous efforts at reform.

      To ensure this, I am firmly convinced that we need to embed both
      · Swedish style Freedom of Information
      and
      · Swiss style direct democracy
      into our constitution.

      However, these steps will take longer to research, consider and implement. For expediency we
      must take those steps which we can, just to get us started on political and institutional reform.

      For more, see my contribution to the Dublin City Business Association 10-point manifesto from p. 56 on
      http://www.dcba.ie/static/doclib/Towards_a_Second_Republic.pdf

      Only thus can our skills and energies open the paths to sustainable standards of living and greater justice for all who wish to live and work here.

      • The reason why we are in receivership is that the institutions of the state are not fit for purpose. We had/have hundreds of grossly overpaid people working in the central bank, DoF, and regulators office and they are still working there bar the removal of a few figureheads (at great expense) to appease public anger. When Brian Lenihan gave us NAMA and his blanket guarantee he delivered this state into the hands of foreigners. That, and the right wing politics we have and continue to have in Ireland, which saw fit to give away our fishing rights, mineral exploration licences and minerals for next to nothing is our problem. One thing is sure before they finally fall on their sword any asset this state has will be sacrificed in order to try and maintain the status quo.

        The conjecture and opinion of a judge who chooses to reconstruct conversations that have taken place 14 years ago is of little concern to me as I am one of those people who see the revolving door system of justice operated by him and his peers as being far more pertinent to the failure of the state than anything Mr. O’Brien may have done. Personally, I choose to accept the evidence of Mr Andersen who’s testimony under hostile questioning from Michael McDowell effectively dismantled the Tribunal by exposing the undoubted evidential bias in its modus operandi. Is it not the case, that it is perfectly “legal” for civil and public servants to enter into sweetheart agreements with unions and sit on each others remuneration committees, to give themselves a Croke Park agreement at our collective expense while continuing to demand time off to celebrate the King of England’s birthday. Loss of sovereignty does not worry such people their only worry is when their pension pots, permanent jobs and salaries are threatened.

        I admire your efforts to rehabilitate the state but were it not for the fact that the country is broke, the IMF are here and must receive weekly reports from the DoF then absolutely nothing would change in this venially corrupt state. The Moriarty tribunal was hypocritical in that it took 14 years to offer us an opinion, it’s results a mere distraction from the fact that our government have no plan for where the nation should be in even 10 years time. In the governments eyes the state equals the banks and they put their signature on the dotted line to that effect that is why we have lost our sovereignty.

  4. Two thoughts:
    Firstly, yet again the Irish taxpayer is likely to get screwed and nobody will be held accountable.
    Secondly, this is another reminder, as if we needed one, as to why we need to totally overhaul the political donations system. Personally, I am in favour of corporate donations being prohibited altogether. However, whatever ones views on that matter, surely we can all agree that disclosure of all donations needs to take place?


  5. has it occurred to anyone else that a corrupt politician need not ‘do anything’ in return for a contribution. suppose mr x, a person with a business background, donates an unsolicited million euro to a political leader, p, and this is known to the financial and business elite. any person y then seeking to solicit and pay for a favour can then donate ten or twelve thousand euro to mr x, who thus becomes a wholesale buyer, and retail seller, of influence. if there is an investigation of the recipient of the favour, no money has passed between politician p and supplicant y. so no blame attaches.

    this may not seem obvious, but to a speculator it would be an everyday activity – to buy something in quantity that other people might soon need in smaller parcels. trading in pre paid political influence. (because we’re irish – better value than them all . . . )

  6. Wow, I think that most would agree that the findings of the tribunal have been sensational. Certainly, the process that demonstrated the findings been costly beyond any justification, but to my mind, the report will only have any merit if there are consequences. A report is only words on a page. But since that report has been so labouriously and expensively produced, shouldn’t we follow up on it? I think that a motion proposing that lowry be impeached for corruption should be put to a vote of the dail as a matter of urgency. If these findings are true, he is not fit to hold public office.

    • @ Matt Wall, you “think that a motion proposing that lowry be impeached for corruption should be put to a vote of the dail as a matter of urgency. If these findings are true, he is not fit to hold public office.”

      God forbid, did I ever think I would find myself defending Michael Lowry. Surely, you do not want an impeachment based on an “IF” because that is what we have after 14 years of leisurely spinning by a tribunal that has given us the most expensive “opinion” ever proffered in the history of the state.

      Small wonder the state is bankrupt, when, what has taken place is the transfer of 45 millions to the Moriarty legal team alone, to deliver an opinion which we all know will not stand up in any court. Today, it was announced that 15 members of CAB are to be assigned to “investigate” the opinion and that there is every likelihood that this would take a further “number of years” to conclude, all to be paid for by the bewildered Irish tax payer.

  7. But what’s changed since the 1990s?

    No one knows where any party gets their funding from – be they FG or FF or even Green or The ULA types, and not one single elected rep in the entire country publishes receipts to prove the expenses they claim were actually incurred, plus how many TDs are claiming accomodation allowances for flats with no mortgage etc etc.

    Also, it defies belief that a politician does not know who gives money to the party beside the party officials do know and the reality is that the only reason a person gets to bend the ear of a politician is that they gave more money than person B.

    The cost of the taxpayer funded the political process in Ireland would be vastly cheaper than what it is going to cost us for the next 3 decades to pay for the corruption and cronyism of decisions taken by parties who based their policies on what suited the interests of the various golden circles, be they business, the unions, the professions or anyone else, rather than on what was right.

  8. But what’s changed since the 1990s?

    No one knows where any party gets their funding from – be they FG or FF or even Green or The ULA types, and not one single elected rep in the entire country publishes receipts to prove the expenses they claim were actually incurred, plus how many TDs are claiming accomodation allowances for flats with no mortgage etc etc.

    Also, it defies belief that a politician does not know who gives money to the party beside the party officials do know and the reality is that the only reason a person gets to bend the ear of a politician is that they gave more money than person B.

    The cost of the taxpayer funding the political process in Ireland would be vastly cheaper than what it is going to cost us for the next 3 decades to pay for the corruption and cronyism of decisions taken by parties who based their policies on what suited the interests of the various golden circles, be they business, the unions, the professions or anyone else, rather than on what was right.

  9. As far as I can see there are two consequential issues from this tribunal. The first is the thorny issue of media ownership and its impact on the democratic process. It was frightening to witness two journalist employees of DOB on Vincent Browne the other night reduced to mumbling idiots trying to find ways to diminish the tribunal and its presiding judge.
    The role of the traditional media in the political and economic life of the country over the past 15 years would make for rich research material.
    Unless this media control issue is resolved there is little chance for real reform of governance.

    The second issue is the imperative for whistle blowers legisaltion in the public service as a matter of urgency.

  10. we the people of eire/ireland said to be a democracy have received a report into the actions of state man and his actions called the moriarty

  11. we the people of eire /ireland are said to be a democracy but dictators took over and left our country bankrupt and the state of ruling by the ff party was in tandem to its now state so currupt and at odds with the people as to make clear the curruption held by their rule and its members who did not say stop in their evil acts and actions against the people of ireland

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