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Lowry refuses to say whether report of Phelan tape is accurate

The former minister says he cannot establish the veracity of the reported tape conversation as he cannot obtain a copy of it.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

MICHAEL LOWRY has refused to comment on whether the conversation with property scout Kevin Phelan, revealed in the Sunday Independent last month, is genuine.

The Tipperary North TD says he cannot say whether the report of the taped conversation – in which Lowry reportedly refers to a payment of £250,000 made to Phelan – was accurate, as he did not have a copy of the tape.

Lowry said he had been unable to get a copy from the Sunday Independent, which first reported the conversation two weeks ago, because the newspaper had cited journalistic privilege in protecting its materials.

He told Tipp FM’s ‘Tipp Today’ programme that his legal team had been “in contact to establish the legalities involved in secretly intercepting an alleged telephone conversation,” and whether it was lawful to publish a transcript of a “tapped” conversation.

The Sunday Independent, which published a full transcript of its tape at the time, reported that it had asked a professional sound engineer to examine whether its recording had been tampered with, and that there was “no evidence” of any tampering or interference.

It also said the voices of Lowry and Phelan were “clearly identifiable”.

In the following week’s paper, Kevin Phelan – who had acted as a property scout for Lowry – acknowledged that he was the source of the tape obtained by the Sunday Independent.

The Sunday Independent transcript of the recording claimed that Lowry had pleaded with Phelan not to reveal a payment of £250,000 made to him, as he had “never declared it”.

In a statement released that evening, however, Lowry said the payment had been “properly recorded and accounted for” on the books of one of his companies.

The payment was particularly important because Lowry had told the Moriarty Tribunal of payments to Phelan worth £65,000, and said this was the “only payment” he had made to Phelan.

‘How would I know whether it’s me?’

Today Lowry declined to answer further questions about the tape, insisting instead that records provided to the Moriarty Tribunal had outlined where “every penny” of his money had been spent and distributed.

“How would I know whether it’s me,” he said referring to the transcript, “when the [Sunday] Independent has refused to hand over the tape to me?”

Lowry consistently avoid questions about whether he had any recollection of the conversation.

“Sections of the media are running an organised, concerted and vicious media campaign,” he claimed. “For some people in the media, the ‘topple Lowry’ campaign has become an absolute obsession.

“For 17 years I have been the subject of intense scrutiny… no individual in the history of the country has been subjected to the same level of inquiry as I have been subjected to.

“For 17 years it has been constant, it has been ever-present, it has been mind-bending harassment [...] To be blunt with you, it has been sickeningly intrusive.”

Read: Lowry: Payment in taped conversation was tax compliant

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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