Enda Kenny was left looking isolated as he failed to join the Labour and Fianna Fáil leaders in demanding the Tipperary North independent quit the Dáil after the damning findings of the probe into how Lowry helped Denis O’Brien land the lucrative mobile phone licence continued to produce political shockwaves.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore denied referring the tribunal probe to the DPP was effectively kicking it into touch as the report cannot be used as a basis for prosecutions.
The move came as angry scenes in the Dáil saw Enda Kenny admit Fine Gael’s acceptance of a $50,000 donation from Esat just weeks after it won the contract in 1995 was “wrong”.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams triggered uproar when he branded the way the funds were channelled to Fine Gael as “classic money-laundering”.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar admitted the donation was a “mistake” and Fine Gael did not come out of the affair “smelling of roses”, but insisted laws had been tightened since then and the Government would move to ban all corporate donations.
The Dáil will debate the tribunal report for two days next week, but only Labour Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte will take questions for the Government.
Mr Lowry called the Moriarty verdict “deeply hurtful and offensive”, saying he was “sickened and saddened” by it. He said he saw no reason to resign.
Mr O’Brien said he welcomed the intervention of the DPP, saying the tribunal report would “not withstand any objective scrutiny”.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin insisted Mr Kenny had serious questions to answer as he, and five current ministers, were in the Cabinet at the time of the decision. He also led calls for Lowry to go, saying: “His behaviour in relation to this was appalling.”
The tribunal found that Mr O’Brien made two payments to Mr Lowry in 1996 and 1999 totalling approximately £500,000 and backed a loan of stg£420,000 given to Mr Lowry in 1999. Mr Justice Moriarty said the payments from Mr O’Brien were “demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr Lowry” during the mobile licence process.
Question marks still hang over Mr Lowry’s legal costs.