Lowry says Revenue leaked raid details to put pressure on him

TD claims search by tax officials unnecessary and an outrageous invasion of his privacy

Independent TD Michael Lowry today accused the Revenue Commissioners of infringing his rights to have his tax affairs dealt with in a confidential manner. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Independent TD Michael Lowry today accused the Revenue Commissioners of infringing his rights to have his tax affairs dealt with in a confidential manner. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 15:05

Independent TD Michael Lowry has accused the Revenue Commissioners of infringing on his rights to have his tax affairs dealt with confidentially, saying that they leaked details of a search of his home to the media.

Mr Lowry told Tipperary FM that the search carried out by some 15 officials from the Revenue Commissioners at his home near Holycross on Tuesday was an “outrageous invasion” of his privacy.

“It was a fruitless exercise. First of all I was baffled as to why there was any necessity to do it,” he said. “They left an inventory of I don’t know how many documents were taken…maybe political statements I had made or handwritten notes I had, bank statements.”

Mr Lowry said there was “nothing of any significance” taken from the house or his office. “I, together with my accountancy advisors, were co-operating fully with the Revenue Commissioners since the McCracken Tribunal. Any questions or information they sought was provided to them,” he told the Today programme hosted by Seamus Martin.

“I can say for definite .... the Revenue at all times over the last number of years have received total co-operation not just from myself but also from my accountancy advisors.”

Mr Lowry, who represents the Tipperary North constituency, said he was taken aback when he discovered that the Revenue Commissioners were carrying out a search of his house. He said he was not aware that they had such powers and he had never experienced anything like it before.

“They were perfectly within their legal right to do what they did but I would have to say it was very heavy handed and totally unnecessary and I have communicated my feelings through my solicitor to the Revenue Commissioners yesterday,” he said.

“To be quite honest with you I was very upset about it and everybody about me was upset. .... I was appalled by it because it was an outrageous invasion of my privacy and my family home. It was a massive intrusion into my family area.

He said he was not at home at the time but once he learned of the search, he immediately contacted his solicitor and he asked him to attend at his house where he had discussion with the officials from the Revenue Commissioners.

He said he didn’t discuss the search even with close friends as he fully expected the Revenue Commissioners to leak details of the raid to the media in an effort to further pressurise him and he believed that was exactly what happened

“The normal sequence is they would leak it and sure enough the media descended in huge numbers on my office yesterday and camped outside my house. In fact they are still outside my house. This is the normal thing with these searches.”

A spokeswoman for the Revenue Commissioners declined to comment on Mr Lowry’s specific case and complaints but did point out generally that it was a key principle of Revenue’s operations not to breach taxpayer confidentiality.

“It is a fundamental principle of Revenue’s operations and was recently enshrined in legislation. All Revenue staff are fully aware that it is essential for good tax administration to observe this principle,” she said.