The Brazen Heads



From top: Michael Lowry and Denis O’Brien in 1997; Anne-Marie McNally

 As the IBRC commission of inquiry falters Michael Lowry seeks his legal costs for the Moriarty Tribunal.

Business as usual so.

Anne Marie McNally writes:

Where to begin? Another week another Siteserv/O’Brien/IBRC drama unfolds across our courts or our parliament-it’s almost becoming unusual for there to be a week without something connected to one of these issues rearing its opaque and shrouded head.

So apparently it has taken a Judge; and an Attorney General; and a Minister for Finance; and a stable of financial brains in the Department of Finance, the best part of five months to discover that there are significant, nay fatal, legal impediments to the Commission of inquiry that was established to inquire into the inner workings of IBRC and 37 transactions which attracted write-offs exceeding €10million.

Among those 37 transactions is the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien which involved a write-off of €119million. It’s worth noting that at the time of the sale, O’Brien was also a significant debtor of IBRC, owing them amounts in the hundreds of millions. It’s also worth noting that following its sale to O’Brien, Siteserv went on to win several of the lucrative Irish Water metering contracts.

That sale was not without its controversies – including the payment of €5million in cash to the shareholders of the beleaguered Siteserv and claims by other bidders that they had bid higher amounts for the company but had lost out to O’Brien’s acquisition vehicle, Millington Ltd.

But the sale may well have represented the best value for the Irish Citizen – the problem is we just don’t know if that’s the case or not. That was or is the point of the Commission but here we stand, five months after its establishment, with no answers but yet more questions.

The singular remit of the IBRC was to ensure the maximum return possible to Irish citizens for the distressed assets of the borrowers that had been bailed out with €35 billion of Irish citizen’s money. The remit of the Commission of Inquiry was to satisfy the public that the IBRC had delivered on the mandate given to it.

As it stands now, the public are unsure if the IBRC delivered on that mandate and they know the Commission didn’t deliver on its task.

Meanwhile, as the IBRC debacle raged in the media and on the floor of the Dáil on Tuesday, Michael Lowry TD took himself into the High Court to challenge the decision of the Moriarty Tribunal to only award him one third of his legal costs.

The same Michael Lowry TD which the Moriarty Tribunal said in its findings had failed to cooperate fully with it. It must be said that both Mr Lowry and Mr O’Brien reject the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal – and in fact O’Brien rejects even the notion that it was a judicial process despite having been presided over by Justice Moriarty.

So yesterday Mr Lowry took himself into the High Court and argued that the Moriarty Tribunal was discriminating against him because it had only awarded him one third of his costs while it had awarded Charles Haughey 100% of his costs.

That same tribunal which found that payments made from Denis O’Brien to Michael Lowry were “Demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr Lowry.” (Those acts included the awarding of the 2nd mobile phone licence when Michael Lowry was Communications Minister to EsatTelecom, founded by Denis O’Brien).

Mr Lowry’s argument in the High Court seems to be that Haughey gave the tribunal even more of a run around than he himself did so it’s unfair that he should have fewer costs awarded to him than were awarded to Haughey. I trust his legal costs have left him some cash to invest in some decent moisturiser for his neck which appears to resemble the nether regions of a jockey.

It’s ironic – I’d use another word but for that infamous chill – that two of the main protagonists in one of the most controversial episodes in recent Irish memory, the Moriarty Tribunal, are front and centre in these latest episodes of mystery and brazenness.

Ireland is the best little country in the world in which to do business. No doubt.

Anne-Marie McNally is a political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and will be a candidate for the Social Democrats in the forthcoming General Election. Follow Anne-Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally


67 thoughts on “The Brazen Heads

  1. Bored of DOB

    “his legal costs have left him some cash to invest in some decent moisturiser for his neck which appears to resemble the nether regions of a jockey.”

    Crass and not befitting of a politician. What are SD policies? Do you pay your water charges? Same old message being relayed to a weary audience.

    1. ahjayzis

      I believe they have a Web-Site on that there new fangled worldwide tinterweb yokey, chicken.

      It’s not crass, it’s perfectly put, true and written for the medium – this ain’t the Grauniad or the NYT.

    2. Lorcan Nagle

      Because it’s far more important to get worked up about a turn of phrase rather than corrupt politicians wasting court time to try and wring more money out of the state.

      1. ahjayzis

        But Lorcan! He’s *bored* of the corruption. We need to shut up about it. There’s only one thing worse than being fleeced by oligarchs – having to discuss and debate solutions to the problem. Pass.

        1. Lorcan Nagle

          To be fair, I’m also bored of Denis O’Brien. I propose to remedy this by stripping him of all his assets and throwing him into a cell in Arbour Hill for a decade or two, with every single person who took a bribe as his neighbours.

          1. Lorcan Nagle

            Denis O’Brien was found to have bribed Michael Lowry by the Moriarty Tribunal. A case was passed to the DPP who have refused to act on it. they’re both criminals.

        2. Bored of DOB

          I don’t see any solutions being discussed by Annemarie nor do I see the seedlings of any debate. A pub rant at best .

          1. Anne-Marie McNally

            Buy me a pint so.

            Maybe my repeated calls for action on the findings of the Moriarty might be seen as a solution no? Too obvious?
            Damn those obvious solutions.

          2. ahjayzis

            She’s the one playing a vital part in exposing this stuff and putting it up to the government to investigate it – She and Cath Murphy literally planted that seed you silly man.

          3. Lorcan Nagle

            I don’t see any solutions in your post either. So you’re the equivalent of some guy shouting at a pub rant?

          4. Fergus the magic postman

            I didn’t know boredom was another problem salmon had to endure on top of everything else.

          5. classter

            ‘repeated calls for action on the findings of the Moriarty’ is not a solution, not even really the germ of a solution.

            For it to be a solution, you would need to figure out specifically why action has not been taken, find out what concrete measures would be required to allow action be taken & find a way to force this in motion.

            Shatter attempted to put a solution in place for the tribunal legal cost problem by getting a referendum on parliamentary inquiries. Unfortunately (imo), we the people decided against,

            Anybody can call for action.
            ‘Action please’.
            There, now I’ve done it too.

          6. FreshFish


            I’m actually salmon

            No idea who this new lad is

            As I was saying. I’m happy to buy Ammo a pint anytime. I now reckon it will be easier to finally find out who’s funding her campaign if I get her a bit drunk first

          1. Anne-Marie McNally

            It won’t let me reply to your message about the number one – but cheers!! You do that and I’ll buy YOU a pint :-)

        1. Bored of DOB

          I asked two questions and yet the focus was on my username. Dodge and smear , the political game is still being played .

    1. Nially

      “I prefer nuance and transparency” said the simplistic moron posting from the latest in a string of ever-changing usernames.

  2. isallimsaying

    All these damn million/billions. they’re all the same aren’t they?
    “established to inquire into the inner workings of IBRC and 37 transactions which attracted write-offs exceeding €10million.”
    €10 Million. wow. that’s quite a lot…but the next line is “Among those 37 transactions is the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien which involved a write-off of €119million.” So did the other 36 write offs actually profit the IRBC to the tune of €109M+? Or wha’?

    1. Anne-Marie McNally

      any transaction which involved a write-off in excess of €10million was to be investigated.

      So company a gets a write-off of €12 million – it gets investigate.
      Company B gets a write-off of €120 million – it gets investigated.

      Just so happens Siteserv got a write off of €119 million.

  3. isallimsaying

    Understood. Thank you for the explanation, although you’ll agree that your original line was equivocal. Incidentally, what was the grand total of write-offs?

    1. Anne-Marie McNally

      I won’t agree. I’m stubborn like that :-)

      The total is unknown – it would have been one of the pieces of information we’d have hoped the Commission would have revealed. We know there were other transactions with equally significant write-offs including INM.

  4. Mark Ryan

    Breath of fresh air to see someone with such passion in politics. We need more women like you Anne-Maire to give people a bit of hope. I wish you well in your election campaign. Something is going to have to be done about Denis – we either hand him the deeds, or make him accountable for tribunal findings.

  5. pardon

    Can we also do something about Gerry Adams and his dubious past ? Or does that question not sit too comfortably with the narrative of the hashtag left?

    1. ahjayzis

      I’ve a problem with recurring mould on my ensuite ceiling – can we sort that before we do anything else?

    1. ahjayzis

      You accidentally capitalised this user name – please be less sloppy in switching identities in future.

    2. MoyestWithExcitement

      Why are you asking me if that qualifies? You’re the one who came up with the term. Jayzus.

    1. David Moyes, I hardly knew ye.

      Wahey, it works. And you don’t even need a different email address. I knew there were multiple account trolls here.

  6. Jake38

    No matter what the latest result of this farce we can be sure of one thing. The taxpayer funded gravy train for the legal profession will keep on giving.

  7. Toni The Exotic Dancer

    Fooping justice system in this country is the root of all problems. Shatter tried to change what he could, but he’s been turfed out. We need somebody to tackle this sh*t head-on. White collar criminals never break any laws because they got their buddys to create the laws.

  8. perricrisptayto

    Cast your minds back to when the mobile phone licenses were being granted, and who was in government then.
    Think about who is in government now.
    Do you think the corruption started and ended with Lowry?
    There’s a lot of people with a lot to lose if the real truth was ever to be exposed.
    This will drag on and on until they find a carpet big enough to sweep the whole affair under.

Comments are closed.