Taoiseach insists "nothing to hide" about Lowry's support for the Government

The Tipperary TD was convicted of tax offences yesterday

Taoiseach insists "nothing to hide" about Lowry's support for the Government

Independent TD Michael Lowry leaving the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, 26-06-2018. Image: Sam Boal / RollingNews

The Taoiseach has insisted there is “nothing to hide” about the Governments’ relationship with independent TD Michael Lowry.

The Tipperary TD was convicted of tax offences yesterday and was fined €15,000.

Judge Martin Nolan found that the offences did not merit a custodial sentence.

The verdict has led to questions about the Government’s reliance on the former Fine Gael minister for key votes in the house.

Today, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called on the Taoiseach to outline the Government’s arrangement with Deputy Lowry – however Leo Varadkar denied that there is one.

“There is nothing to publish and nothing to hide,” he said.

“As I have said before, we have no formal agreement, written or verbal, with any independent TD, however there are several independent TDs who generally support the Government.

“Because they generally support the Government, we are happy for them to raise with Ministers constituency issues or policy issues.

“If we can work on them we do and where we can’t we can’t.”

File photo of People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith called for new regulations forcing all TDs to give up their business interests before taking up their seats when they get elected.

She said we have been “skirting around it for years when we talk reforming about the way politicians do business.”

“We have vested interests of landlords, of business people, of barristers; of all sorts of professions; who continue to carry on being the professionals and the business interests that they are while they are politicians - and I don’t think that is good enough anymore,” she said.

“I think there has to be a separation and a clear divestment of interests in the outside world once you are in Parliament.”

She said politics and business should be kept separate because, “otherwise I think there is always a conflict of interest that at some point will clash with the business of being a public representative.”

The Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe meanwhile told the programme that the Government is not condoning Deputy Lowry’s behaviour.

He insisted the deputy’s support is not needed to keep Fine Gael in power.

“We have no agreement– no written agreement – with Deputy Lowry in relation to our budget,” he said.

“What Deputy Lowry has said is that he will support three budgets in the interests of the stability of the country and that is purely the basis upon which we work with him,” he said.

“I am not in this together; I am really clear that any form of tax evasion is a very, very serious crime.”

Additional reporting from Sean Defoe ...