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Lowry to defy bid to force him from Dail

DISGRACED TD Michael Lowry is facing further pressure to resign following the damning findings about him in the Moriarty Tribunal.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is understood to be reluctant to accept the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal to prevent the State from being sued over the awarding of the mobile phone licence in the 1990s.

But former Fine Gael minister Mr Lowry is today facing a call from the rest of the TDs in the Dail to "voluntarily resign" on foot of the Tribunal's report.

The disgraced Independent TD will endure a motion of censure, agreed by Government and opposition parties alike, saying his conduct was "completely unacceptable".

However, the Dail has no power to expel the defiant North Tipperary TD who continues to reject the report.

Responding to almost two days of criticism against him in the Dail, Lowry said: "My conscience is clear. I have a life and a career to get back to and I intend to do so."

The Government is concerned the Tribunal report could assist compensation claims from consortiums which failed to win the second mobile phone licence at the centre of the probe.

Mr Kenny explained there were legal issues for the Government to consider in its response to the report.

Government sources said the coalition must be cautious as there are legal actions pending against the State over the awarding of the licence to Denis O'Brien's Esat Digifone.

The Tribunal report only has the legal status of being the opinion of its chairman, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty. But if the Government recognised the findings, it would give it greater weight in a court case.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte also said the Government had to be wary about saying anything that "might expose the taxpayer".

"It does mean for that reason that we are constrained by what we can say," he said.



extraordinary

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was "extraordinary" the Taoiseach had not yet said if he accepted the findings of the Tribunal.

Mr Kenny finally agreed to have the motion tabled yesterday. The carefully worded motion will note the final report of the Moriarty Tribunal and says the Dail believes the conduct set out in the Tribunal report was "completely unacceptable" for a member of the Oireachtas. The motion will call for Mr Lowry to "voluntarily resign" his seat.

It will not be debated and will be passed with all-party agreement without debate.

csheehy@herald.ie