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In full: Micheal Lowry's Dáil statement on his property dealings

The full prepared speech of Michael Lowry, where the Moriarty Tribunal is labelled “a scandal of truly epic proportions”.

The following is the full text of a statement prepared by Michael Lowry for delivery in the Dáil this evening on the Moriarty Tribunal’s finding of his property dealings.

The full statement, as ultimately delivered, went beyond the prepared remarks.

I wish to thank the members of this House for the courtesy shown to me while I made my statement yesterday. I endured only one vitriolic intervention – from Deputy Stagg; a man who has endured his own controversy and received compassion from this House in his own difficult times. Deputy Stagg threw a nasty slur across the floor of this House intimating that Professor Michael Andersen was paid to give his evidence. This is absolutely not true – not even the Moriarty Tribunal has ever alleged this.

Professor Andersen gave evidence when his long standing request for an indemnity was met. His standing as an expert in the field of mobile telecommunication competitions is beyond reproach. He is also and academic and author of real standing. He was the only expert in this field to give evidence to the Tribunal. Just because the Moriarty Tribunal could not deal with his stark “inconvenient truths” they simply whitewashed his evidence completely out of the equation. This “let’s pretend Andersen never happened approach” is not a licence for Deputy Stagg or anyone else to cast ill considered and ignorant aspersions across the floor of this chamber.

Would Deputy Stagg wish to cast a slur on all of those witnesses as well? Is he saying the 17 Civil servants were paid to give false evidence? Maybe those witnesses were all part of a conspiracy to corrupt the licence competition process 15 years ago and all came together in the 15 years since to perjure themselves consistently before the Tribunal? Maybe all of those witnesses were bought and paid for too? Surely they cannot all be wrong?

It is a fact that NO money was ever received into my bank account, my family or any of my businesses accounts from Denis O’Brien. I have NEVER received any money from Denis O’Brien or from anyone on his behalf.

The Moriarty Tribunal has engaged in a cynical exercise of presenting two English property transactions and a loan agreement in a slanted and deliberately incomplete manner to give the impression that I was the nett beneficiary of: – €147,000 – €300,000 – €420,000 A total of €900,000 approximately. To give the false and misleading impression that I got €900,000 approx is an intentional and malicious misrepresentation of the facts. I got no €900,000. I benefited with a BIG FAT zero from these properties. Let me go through these three properties and dismantle the notion that I walked away with €900,000.

House Purchased at 43 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, County Dublin

- I purchased the property on 17th July 1996. The purchase price was IR£200,000. I was a Government Minister at the time which required my attendance in Dublin on a regular basis. I needed a residence in Dublin.
- I obtained a mortgage for the full purchase price IR£200,000
- I entered into a personal loan agreement with David Austin (deceased) for IR£147,000 to fund the refurbishment to make it habitable. This loan was fully documented and drawn up on agreed commercial terms between myself and Mr. Austin.
- I subsequently had no need for a second home in Dublin.
- I never occupied the house as renovations had not been completed. I sold the house back to the builder in January 1997.
- I repaid the mortgage of IR£200,114.55.
- As per our written loan agreement, I repaid the loan in full together with interest directly to David Austin’s personal account on 7th February 1997 with a payment of IR£148,816.93. The moneytrail shows that he spent his own money after it was returned by me. This was a loan, pure and simple. There was no nett financial benefit to me in this transaction.
- The Spanish property transaction and the loan as between Mr. Austin and myself are clearly two separate and distinct transactions. There is no link between them.

Mansfield

- This property was purchased in September 1998, THREE years after the license was granted and TWO years after I was a Minister.
- I paid the deposit of 10% on this property. I paid it out of my own money. Aidan Phelan paid the balance of the purchase price from £300.000 which he had lodged in the English solicitors client account.
- I never received any money from this solicitors client account.
- To this day, Mr. Phelan and I own that property. Mr. Phelan owns 90% and I retain the 10% which I duly paid for with my own money.
- My 10% ownership and Aidan Phelan’s 90% ownership is legally reflected in the registered title deed documentation.
- This Mansfield property was never sold. My 10% is worth little or nothing today.
- I received no payment or benefit in this deal. It is fiction to say that I got 300,000 from this property. There is no money trail.

Cheadle (UK)

- In 1999, FOUR years after the license was granted and THREE years after I was Minster, I negotiated the purchase of this property at Cheadle through a company CatClause which was legally registered in my name for £445,000.
- As I was already in partnership in Mansfield property with Aidan Phelan he agreed to pay the 10% deposit £44,500.
- I had difficulty in organising finance to complete the purchase as any loan was subject to an independent personal guarantee.
- I failed to get a bank guarantor so therefore my loan was disapproved.
- Because of my inability to raise the funds Aidan Phelan took exclusive ownership of the deal. It is a fact that he sold the property years later, discharged the loan himself to Woodchester Bank and retained the full proceeds of the sale.
- This was all proven to the Tribunal and backed up with relevant documentation.
- Contrary to the impression deliberately created by Moriarty that I received €420,000, the fact is that I received absolutely nothing from this transaction. There never was €420,000 paid to me by way of loan or otherwise.
- The alleged €420,000 Cheadle payment is a complete and utter lie.

It was proven to the Tribunal that I actually did not benefit from any of these transactions. There is no pot of gold at the end of some rainbow in North Tipperary, or anywhere else. The financial trail is actually far more mundane and unimpressive than the Tribunal would have everyone believe. Frankly, the evidence and the facts show that the so called money trail goes nowhere. However, opinions do not have to reflect the facts. Opinions can be infinitely more interesting and scandalous because opinions never have to be proven.

Every transaction in every bank account that I have had since 1986, either in my own name or in the name of my companies, were trawled through. I was able to account for every single transaction in every account. The same went for all accounts held by my late mother, my brothers, sister, and my children. I would ask the members of this House to reflect on the enormous level of intrusion that can be visited upon a citizen by a Tribunal of Inquiry. The pressure as brought to bear would have been too much for me had it not been for the kind support of my family, friends and my supporters. I owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

This Tribunal report is a triumph of innuendo over evidence; a triumph of supposition over fact. I believe that it is truly a bad day for Ireland when citizens can be subjected to the incredible levels of ridicule and contempt that I and others have endured on the basis of unsubstantiated opinion. I have endured it with great strain but I refuse to buckle under it.

My conscience is clear. I do not accept Michael Moriarty’s baseless opinions and I will not apologise for something that I did not do. I have a life and a career to get back to and I intend to do so. I am certainly a little older and I would hope a little wiser for my experiences with the Moriarty Tribunal but I am still standing and I know that I still have a valuable and worthwhile contribution to make. I intend to make it.

Michael Martin, Fianna Fail and others can continue to make me a political football by way of a politically convenient censure motion. It is my intention to make a contribution to that debate but I will not give my detractors the satisfaction of putting this motion to a vote. I wish to advise that I have no intention of resigning my position as a democratically elected representative of this House. I will not walk away from the overwhelming mandate that was given to me by the constituents of North Tipperary/South Offaly.

I would also emphatically reject the sneering and snide references to “gombeen politics” and parish pump politics that seem to delight certain sections of the media. Contrary to what might be suggested in the media, the constituents of North Tipperary are every bit as intelligent and politically sophisticated as their counterparts anywhere else in the country. I am proud to serve them. I have performed my role as elected representative of the people of North Tipperary to the very best of my ability. I will continue to do so until they decide otherwise.

In conclusion I wish to state that the Moriarty Tribunal has not done the State some service. I believe that in the fullness of time, their contribution will be exposed for what it is; a scandal of truly epic proportions.

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Gavan Reilly

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