THE DÁIL HAS begun two days of discussions on the findings of the Moriarty Report – with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin saying he would be seeking an all-party motion calling on Michael Lowry to resign his seat in the Dáil.
Party leaders and spokesmen from the opposition parties were this evening making their opening statements to the Dáil on the matter, ahead of an hour-long statement from Michael Lowry set for 7pm or so.
Opening discussions, Enda Kenny defended the actions of John Bruton who had turned down a $50,000 donation from Esat, and ordered that it be returned when he found out that it had been accepted against the party’s wishes.
Fine Gael was now prioritising laws to outlaw corporate donations, Kenny said, promising to have the legislation published by the summer.
Damage has already been done to Ireland by a culture of “thanks very much, big fella” which had been nurtured by Fianna Fáil’s tenure in government, Kenny indicated – behaviour which had ”contaminated our republic”.
Micheál Martin complained that many on the government benches had made careers by “posturing about real and imagined ethical issues,” and referred to Enda Kenny’s statement in 1996 when Lowry resigned – when the now-Taoiseach insisted that Lowry was of the highest integrity.
He also drew an unusual intervention from the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett, after claiming Barrett had been in attendance at a fundraising dinner in New York while a member of cabinet. Barrett stated that he hadn’t been at any such meeting, and scolded Martin for referring to him when he knew the Ceann Comhairle was barred from responding.
Gerry Adams, meanwhile, said he felt there should have been tribunals on other worthy areas, such as the “corrupt decision” of the former government to give away the state’s natural resources, such as the Corrib gas field.
“Where’s the tribunal for, just, poor people?,” Adams asked.
There was some comic relief when Adams shared speaking time with Martin Ferris and Jonathan O’Brien, however, when the latter was interrupted when his phone began to ring as he took the floor.
“Jaysus, Denis O’Brien has some power,” O’Brien joked.
Wexford independent TD Mick Wallace took his opportunity to complain about the poor attendance during the House for the debate, but also made time to share his ire at Michael Lowry and his dismissal of Justice Michael Moriarty’s findings.
“For people with influence to be able to challenge the legal system like this, with such brazenness… I relaly think that this isn’t good for us.
“People who pay pipers call tunes,” he added, referring to corporate donations.
Joan Collins of the People Before Profit Alliance said TDs were being asked to believe an “extraordinary series of coincidences”, if Lowry’s tale of events was to be believed.
In full: the speeches of Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin >