The President of the Workers Party, Michael Finnegan, has said that the final report of the Moriarty Tribunal is a damning but largely impotent commentary on corruption at the heart of government in this country. Mr. Finnegan has called for the cabinet papers of the then coalition government relating to the awarding of the mobile phone contract to Esat to be published in the national interest. This was particularly important as some of the members of that government are now back in cabinet.
He said that the report, which shows that former Communications Minister Michael Lowry had helped billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien to win a lucrative mobile phone contract for Esat Digifone and that Mr. O’Brien had made large payments to Mr. Lowry’s account, confirmed the Golden Circle of corruption already exposed by previous tribunals.
However the Workers Party president said that most damning thing about the Tribunal report was that neither Michael Lowry nor Denis O’Brien is likely to be prosecuted or indeed face any public sanction for their actions. “The very fact that the tribunal has taken an incredible 14 years to finalise its report means that the any possibility of a Garda Fraud Squad investigation has been stymied”, said Mr. Finnegan.
“Mr. Lowry continues as a member of the national parliament, Dáil Éireann, while Mr. O’Brien has continued to enjoy close contacts with the levers of power despite long-standing questions over his business practices which have now been laid bare.”
“This report, and the equally damning tribunal reports which came before it, demands urgent action to ensure that never again can we have a situation whereby corrupt or questionable dealings are referred to toothless tribunals where they merely become a slush-fund for lawyers and consultants for a decade or more. We need real accountability and we need to have strong legislation to make those who are culpable pay a price. This means a system for recalling ministers, TDs and public officials who have acted inappropriately and a mechanism for thoroughly investigating corruption along with legislation to ensure that nobody is above law in this country”.
Mr. Finnegan concluded by saying that the debacle also raised questions for the new coalition government as a number of those now sitting around the cabinet were ministerial colleagues of Michael Lowry. “The then coalition was slow enough to dissociate itself from Michael Lowry, indeed many of them sprung to his defence at the time. We need to hear from those ministers, who include the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, what they knew about how Mr. Lowry was conducting himself as a minister. In this regard, the Workers’ Party calls on the government to publish all cabinet documents relating to the awarding of the ESAT licence, as a matter of public interest”
Issued 22nd March 2011