Lowry declares interest in UK site
Former Government minister Michael Lowry has amended his entry in the Dáil Register of Members’ Interests to include land in the UK he describes as being of “negligible value.”
In a statement this evening, Mr Lowry said while he had no obligation to declare his interest in the land he was doing so “in response to wildly inaccurate speculation regarding its value.”
Last week, Mr Lowry said he had a half share in approximately 18 acres of land close to Wigan but did not believe his interest in the land is worth more than €13,000.
Under rules based on the Ethics in Public Office Acts, TDs are required to register ownership of property, other than their family home and any holiday home, which has a value greater than €13,000.
The chairman of the Committee on Members’ Interests, Thomas Pringle TD, said that from what he knew about Mr Lowry’s land in Wigan, it “certainly seems that it would be declarable”.
Mr Lowry and businessman Liam Carroll bought options on 220 acres near Wigan a number of years ago, using a British company called Vineacre.
The sale of 2.5 acres of the site, which had received planning permission, for £750,000 some time after the purchase of the options, covered Mr Lowry and Mr Carroll’s costs, according to Mr Lowry and land agent Kevin Phelan, who was involved in putting together the deal.
Mr Lowry said that the cost of renewing the options was high and that he and Mr Carroll decided it was not worth it.
Vineacre was dissolved two years ago and a residual plot of approximately 18 acres of the land is now owned jointly and equally by the two men.
While Mr Lowry had declared his interest in Vineacre over the years, he did not declare his interest in the British site after the company was dissolved.
“We have never had any rental income or anything from it,” Mr Lowry said. “It is landlocked. You couldn’t put a bullock on it. It is worthless if it is not rezoned. I have no difficulty with registering it if I have to.”
Mr Lowry said the land was not inside the area covered by Wigan’s latest planning review and it would be another five years before the next review.
He said he did not own any other land that was not declared in the register.
The payment in 2002 to Mr Phelan of £60,000 in fees he said he was owed from Vineacre was considered by the Moriarty tribunal.