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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
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Lowry: I'll fight Moriarty costs ruling all the way to European Courts

The former communications minister has been ordered to pay two thirds of his Tribunal costs.

FORMER FINE GAEL TD Michael Lowry has pledged to instigate a “comprehensive legal challenge” against an order that he must pay two thirds of his Moriarty Tribunal costs.

He says he plans that “if necessary” he will take the challenge all the way to the European Courts.

The Tribunal found two years ago that the former communications minister had had an “insidious and pervasive influence on the process” of awarding a mobile phone licence to Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone company.

Lowry resigned as minister in 1996 following revelations about his business affairs, later quitting Fine Gael to become an independent TD. He’s been re-elected for Tipperary North in the last three general elections.

In a statement, the disgraced politician says “I flatly reject the reasons put forward in the order for denying me a considerable part of my costs claim”.

The TD also addresses in detail the findings of the Tribunal, and sets out his reasons for not challenging them:

Over the 15 years of the tribunal I never once went to the Courts.

When the Chairman issued provisional findings, which were not based on fact, I was told that it would be a futile legal exercise to mount a court challenge as he would defend his proposed actions by claiming that these findings were only under consideration and he could change his mind.

When the tribunal’s final report was published I was legally advised that there was no point in a legal challenge because the Moriarty report contained opinions which have no legal effect or legal status.

Lowry says in his statement that he and his legal team “have given extensive co-operation to the Tribunal” and describes the accusation that he “delayed and frustrated” proceedings as “unfair, unjust and wrong”.

He claims he was expected to “defend myself with nothing,” while the Tribunal paid its own legal team “an average of €40,000 per month” and contends that:

“This ruling by the Chairman on my costs application demonstrates incredible bias and is in stark contrast to the treatment of other key figures who have been already granted and paid full costs.”
The TD says he has been advised against making any further public statement on the issue as his legal challenge gets under way.

Related: Fine Gael’s €600k Moriarty Tribunal bill paid by Taoiseach’s Department

Also: Martin wants Moriarty reopened, Taoiseach says Tribunal’s work is finished>