The Government has denied there is any pact with Michael Lowry, amid criticisms about the “chicken feed” fine imposed on the Independent TD for tax offences.
Both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney denied there is any formal or informal, written or verbal agreement with the Tipperary TD, after calls for transparency.
Mr Lowry and his refrigeration company were fined a total of €25,000 by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday. He was disqualified from acting as a company director for three years, after he was convicted of filing incorrect tax returns.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called for transparency over the relationship between the Government and Mr Lowry, who is a former Fine Gael minister. It has been reported previously that the Independent TD gets special treatment from the Government, in exchange for votes of support.
“I just think there should be more transparency and less of any deal done between the Government and [him],” Mr Martin told RTÉ.
During later exchanges in the Dáil, Mr Martin claimed Mr Lowry had never voted against the Government. But Mr Varadkar denied there is any special relationship.
“There is nothing to publish and nothing to hide. As I have told the deputy before, we have no formal agreement, written or verbal, with any independent deputy.
This was reiterated later by Mr Coveney. It was also claimed by the Government that, over the past two years, Mr Lowry has voted against the Government on 10 occasions, not voting at all on 71, and with the Government on 89.
But other TDs were critical of the outcome of the case for Mr Lowry, with Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger calling it a “chicken feed fine”.
“A member of the Dáil was sentenced for filing a false tax return, failing to keep proper company accounts, falsifying accounts and yet he received a chickenfeed fine, in the context of his wealth, and a pat on the back from the judge, rather than a rap on knuckles, saying he is a great TD.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved