JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has declined to say whether or not he met with the controversial independent TD Michael Lowry despite other Cabinet members confirming meetings with the former communications minister.
Government ministers’ relationships with Lowry, who was the subject of adverse findings by the Moriarty Tribunal report last year, have come under scrutiny in recent weeks.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan, Health Minister James Reilly and Finance Minister Michael Noonan have confirmed they have met with the Tipperary deputy since March of last year when the Tribunal reported but Shatter has declined to confirm whether or not he met Lowry.
The Irish Independent reported at the weekend that a meeting was sought by Lowry last October in relation to the planned casino development at Two Mile Borris in Co Tipperary. At that stage, the Justice Minister had not confirmed whether or not the meeting had gone ahead.
Since Saturday, the Department of Justice has been asked on a number of occasions if it could confirm whether or not the meeting had transpired but a spokesperson has been unable to get an answer from the Minister.
“The Minister hasn’t provided me with an answer,” the spokesperson told TheJournal.ie yesterday.
The Moriarty Tribunal found that former Fine Gael minister Lowry had an “insidious and pervasive” influence over the awarding of Ireland’s second mobile phone licence in the 1990s to Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone company. Lowry has rejected the findings.
Last week, the Irish Examiner revealed that Hogan had met with Lowry days after the Tribunal reported its findings to discuss a matter related to a waste management company, Filmco, in Lowry’s constituency.
Reilly said that he had met Lowry over a nursing home in Tipperary while Noonan confirmed he met with Lowry when the Tipperary deputy led a delegation from the youth organisation Foróige.
Earlier this week, Lowry hit out at critics saying he was being unfairly victimised by media coverage of his meeting with ministers following the Moriarty Tribunal. He described certain media reports as “reckless” and “irresponsible”.
The Irish Independent reports this morning that Shatter declined to confirm whether or not he had met Lowry because he was “not participating in Independent Newspapers’ agenda”.