Happy New Year, Same as the Last One
Give me strength. It’s less than a week into the New Year, the magical Golden Year of 2013 when all wrongs shall be righted; and already the same smell of pure political horse shit is wafting across the delicate patrician nostrils of Your Humble Narrator. Yep, the appalling named, shamed and forgotten- but- not- gone Michael Lowry has crawled out of the slime that History should have consigned him to and is now threatening us with a Big Book about his political life. I can’t wait.
But more on that creep later.
The third day of the New Year saw Sean Quinn strolling out of Mountjoy Prison, proud in his distinction that he is one of the few chancers that Holy Mother Ireland has managed to send to jail—albeit for the shortest time humanly possible.
He had been accused of spiriting away property worth in the region of €500 million so that Anglo Irish Bank— that bastion of good behaviour that he was once in cahoots with—couldn’t get their little stained, crooked claws on it. So down he went, like his son before him. Hell, I’d be happy do a few months if I knew that I was going to swan out and then keep on living that life of privilege that these characters think that they are entitled to.
Sean told us a good one, though. He says that every one of the convicts that he spent time with reckons that he should not have been in there. In fact one hundred per cent of them thought that he was innocent.
I, like Sean, was impressed at such a ringing endorsement from his fellow convicts. After all, the salutations from guys who are in jail for robbing people, raping women and murdering folks is definitely something that I would love to have on my CV. I’ll bet his pet priest Father Brian D’Arcy was bowled over as well. What do you say, Brian? Every one innocent in the eyes of the Lord, eh?
As a matter of fact I was far more impressed by the reaction time of some of the internet wits who immediately saw the connection between Sean’s brainless statements and that great movie The Shawshank Redemption.
“Hey Andy, what you in for?”
“Well, since you asked, Red, I’m innocent.”
“Ha! You’re going to fit right in here, Andy. Every man in Shawshank is innocent! Hey! What are YOU in for?”
“Me? Innocent! Lawyer screwed me!”
Ah, good old Sean. The world would be less funny without him in it. Another poster included yet another scene:
“So what are you saying, Red? Is Sean innocent? I mean innocent innocent?”
“Yeah, looks that way. Jesus, when did he come in? 2012? That means that he’s served…oh; let me see… nine weeks!”
Whoever you guys were, thank you. You had me laughing; although not as much as Sean had. And definitely not as much as he and his family are laughing at us.
As if that wasn’t funny enough the utterly discredited (but yes, still serving) Tipperary North TD Michael Lowry crawled out from whatever log he’s been under to announce that he will be writing a no-holds-barred book in 2013. The former chairman of—who else?—Fine Gael said: “The bottom line is that I’m going to tell it as it was.” Yeah, and there’s another troop of trained winged monkeys that just flew out of my ass.
When asked if he would be looking for tax exemption for writing a book of fiction to rival the ex and also disgraced Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, he said: “I haven’t thought about the artists’ exemption.” So that‘s a yes then, I’ll take it. After all his old sparring chum Bertie got a tax break despite being richer than Haughey.
A couple of years ago I wrote in the New York Irish Examiner USA:
As chance would have it I remarked in this column only a few weeks ago that I was wondering what the hell had happened to the Tipperary North TD Michael Lowry. Every time I see him lately he looks as if he has just been visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. His face has taken on that dreadful jaundiced looking pallor that usually doesn’t mean that you’re a happy little camper.
I mean, he’s always looked wooden, charmless and as if someone had stuck a pole up his backside and told him to revolve at high speed; but this was a kind of new look to him. In fact I recall mentioning in this column that he looked for all the world like a man who had made a deal with Old Nick and suddenly found out that the fine fellow was coming to collect his dues.
I had just mentioned this in passing. Truth to tell, I had forgotten all about the Moriarty Tribunal. I’m willing to bet that half the country had as well. I guess, though, that Old Nick hadn’t forgotten what he was owed for giving his latest sucker a few brief years in—ahem—power.
After all, it’s been all of fourteen years since the Moriarty Tribunal was set in motion. ‘Eeh, by gum, lad, where do the time go to?
Fourteen years, eh? Can you even remember what you were doing fourteen years ago? There’s no point in asking me. I sometimes have trouble remembering what I did last night. Fourteen years? Fourteen years of waiting to be told by Judge Moriarty that Lowry is a gouger and a chancer.
Well, one thing that I do remember about fourteen years ago is that I already knew that. I didn’t need a tribunal to confirm for me that he, in the learned Judge’s words was, …oh, let me count the ways: “DISGRACEFUL” and “VENAL”.
A decade and a half. That was around the time that he was knocking about Dublin with his mistress. Wow, our first political extra marital scandal! Well, the first one to be out in the open, eh Haughey?
What else did Judge Moriarty say that this fine upstanding politician was? Oh yes, there was “INSIDIOUS”; and what’s the last one I’m looking for?
That’s right: “PROFOUNDLY CORRUPT”.
Now I’m no big shot of a politician, not even one like the crook Lowry, who lives in thrall to Big Business, but even a little person like me doesn’t think that a summation from a learned Judge, who has presided over FOURTEEN YEARS of looking at evidence concerning this gouger, could leave you in any doubt as to the character of the man. In other words, he doesn’t have much of one.
He had to step down from Fine Gael over his involvement in allegedly taking money off businessman Ben Dunne to have an extension put on his lavish home; yet FG find themselves tainted today by their involvement with him last week. Poor old Enda Kenny. He was having a really good run there in his first weeks as Taoiseach for a while. And I’m still cautiously optimistic about him. [Lords of Hell, I got that one wrong, didn’t I?]
“The costs to the State in this case are already prodigious.”
—- “Hour of the Pig”.
OK, let’s go back to the beginning: On the first day the God of Big Business said unto Lowry: “You are not as other men, my son. You are destined for greatness. You are destined by and approved of by us to be the next Taoiseach of this fair emerald isle.” [Horrifying thought: he could have been.]
Lowry was Communications Minister for Fine Gael at this time. He was a major force within Fine Gael and one of their main fund raisers, so when the chance for a truly lucrative mobile phone license came up he was in the right place at the right time. At least for some people. The six rival consortiums and bidders against Denis O’Brien probably don’t feel that they were too lucky. Indeed, two under bidders– so far– will likely be taking the matter further; and rightly so.
Judge Moriarty found that Denis O’Brien’s’ securing of the mobile license for IR£15 million, as it was then, was helped—to put it mildly—by the interference of Lowry. Considering the calibre of some of the other bidders this was quite extraordinary and even back then it raised eyebrows.
Those same eyebrows almost up and crawled into the hairline when it was announced only five years later that Esat Digifone was being sold to British Telecom for the equivalent of €2. 3 billion.
Now truly able to call himself a tycoon, Denis O’Brien— of course by now he was a tax exile— pocketed €289 million for himself. Now that’s what I call turning a profit.
“One law for the rich?”— “Yes, always.”
—- “Hour of the Pig”.
Michael Lowry came out of this very well indeed, in fact to the tune of around a million Euros. Nice work if you can get it. One of the things that Judge Moriarty’s tribunal had to do was the unenviable task of following the labyrinthine paper trail that led to Lowry.
On 3- 7- 1996 Denis O’Brien transferred £407,000 from his Radio Investments account into an account with Allied Irish Bank. This account was with Diest Trading.
A week later the funds were moved to a new AIB account that had been opened by Aidan Phelan. That same day a cheque for £50,000 was written to David Austin (a very close friend of Lowry’s) and transferred to his Bank of Ireland account in—where else– the Channel Islands. Just over another week later and a transfer of £100,000 went to the same offshore account.
From there a bank draft for £147,000 went to Michael Lowry’s bank account with Irish Nationwide. Then on 2- 2- 1997, as the McCracken Tribunal went to work Lowry transferred £148,816.93 to a Bank of Ireland account in…the Channel Islands.
This is the kind of labyrinthine trail that has had to be followed. Moriarty also found that Lowry received support from Dennis O’Brien when he applied for a loan from Woodchester Bank in 1999. This loan didn’t even have to be guaranteed. Oh, yes, there are different sets of rules all right.
This is what comes to be when Big Business and political interests can no longer be separated. Lowry can cost us all this money in trying to find out what he’s up to and yet he will continue to hold on to his seat. After all, 14,000 of his fellow Tipperary voters still think that he is the bee’s knees.
Needless to say, everybody is denying everything. Indeed, Judge Moriarty’s integrity is even being called into question by these louts in suits
Will anybody go to jail? Oh come on, now. This is Ireland, not some country where justice is likely to prevail. So what do you think?
It’s with the Director for Public Prosecutions now, but even on the off chance that something could possibly happen here it would just be thrown into litigation for years to come. With a fourteen year Tribunal that can’t really enforce anything just drawn to a close, do you think that there is any appetite for keeping going?
Since these things have no teeth with which to enforce anything and only end up telling us what we knew in varying degrees anyway, what really is the point of wasting endless money on them? It won’t change anything. It’s just another symptom of the illness in this mad country.
“All I’m saying is that in a world where nothing is reasonable, in the end nothing can be truly mad.”
— “Hour of the Pig.”
Well, Lowry’s former lover, Geraldine Mahon, left no one in any doubt of what she thinks of him in an interview with the “Irish Mail on Sunday:”
“I had to pay for it in the headlines and I couldn’t go through it all again.
“As far as I’m concerned, he is bad news and we all make mistakes with men. He was a big mistake.
“I don’t want anything to do with him. I don’t want to be associated with him. I feel sick now you even mentioning his name.
“It’s an embarrassment to be associated with him. I haven’t seen him in eleven years. I don’t want anything to do with him. He’s not in my future but unfortunately he was in my past.”
So I guess that’s one voter he doesn’t have on his side.
Look, the man’s name has been useless for anything except making people cringe here for years, except in Tipperary North. I don’t really expect this to change anything. Still, a week can be a long time so who knows what the next one will bring. This one will probably run until the next piece of skulduggery comes out.
Meanwhile, it’s less than a year since the chancer declared that he was unable to pay his legal fees. Yet in a move that has become standard with these creatures, he transferred a mortgage free home of his on to his daughter only months before that. It is valued at €250,000.
It just never ends with these people; and we are the ones who allow this to go on and on.
Looking over this as a New Year dawns I can’t help thinking that, once again, the more things change the more they stay the same.