‘Ireland’s image damaged by Wall St move’

The Taoiseach’s decision to share a Wall Street platform with businessman Denis O’Brien has done Ireland’s reputation “no favours”, an anti-corruption campaign group has said.

Ireland has slipped to 25th place — its lowest ever ranking — on a global index measuring perceptions of corruption in 176 countries.

The index is conducted annually by Transparency International.

Yesterday, its Irish arm, Transparency Ireland, warned that the ranking could have a negative impact on Ireland’s credit rating.

It linked Ireland’s fall to a series of political controversies.

“The Moriarty and Mahon tribunals published negative findings against politicians and business people after 15-year-long investigations into corruption and payments to government ministers,” the organisation said.

“There was further controversy a year after the publication of the final Moriarty tribunal report when the Taoiseach shared a platform at Wall Street with Denis O’Brien, a leading businessman linked to clandestine payments to the former minister for communications, Michael Lowry.

“Mr Lowry was found to have influenced the award of the second mobile phone licence to Mr O’Brien’s consortium in 1995.”

John Devitt, the chief executive of Transparency Ireland, said there appeared to have been “very little action” taken on foot of the Moriarty report.

He added: “The Taoiseach’s decision to make public appearances with Denis O’Brien after the publication of the report will have done our international reputation no favours.”

The Moriarty report found that Mr Lowry as communications minister “secured the winning” of the State’s second mobile phone licence for Mr O’Brien in the 1990s, while Mr O’Brien had provided payments and benefits to Mr Lowry.

Both men have rejected the findings of the tribunal. Mr O’Brien has said he never paid “one red cent” to Mr Lowry.

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