Lowry makes triumphant return to 'his people' as vindictive eye turned on media


Loyalty and emotion figure large as Lowry rejects Moriarty report and vows to stay on

“I WANT to see my own people first”, said Michael Lowry, sweeping past the handful of media hanging round the door of the Anner Hotel in Thurles last night.

After more than two days of internecine warfare with the Moriarty tribunal and its agents,   he was about to make a triumphant, emotional return to the warm, supportive heart of his Tipperary North constituency.

Apart from a big pile of typed handouts, summarising his position on the various properties mentioned in the tribunal,   the function room was equipped with about 270 chairs and events manager, Valerie O’Reilly of Unicorn PR – summoned from Dublin, once it became evident that the media was showing an interest – ensured that every single one was occupied (plus about another 80 standing) before the returning hero could make an entrance, 30 minutes late, to a rousing, roaring crowd with one vindictive eye on the media.

The fact that his war was being conducted through the media cut no ice when it came to the same media being facilitated to observe the meeting.   Councillor Eddie Moran – a Templemore publican – said it was originally intended for Lowry councillors only, “but he [Lowry] must have decided to make it public   when you lot got wind of it”.   Maybe, maybe not.

The texted invitations – sent at around 12.30 yesterday – also went to many unaligned constituents and the occasion was couched simply as a meeting “to discuss the Moriarty report”.

For media purposes, however, it was billed as “private”, intended only for his campaign team and committee members.   Anyway, the deal was that we could accompany him into the room for his introduction, then leave and avail of interviews with him in the lobby before he returned for the “private” meeting.

But first , as the cheers faded, he said a few words, a notable tremour in his voice at times, as he expressed his evident relief and gratitude to be back in his native place. “First of all can I say it’s fantastic to be back in my homeland, to be back in Tipperary, to meet with my family, my friends and my campaign team. I want to thank you for your loyalty, for your support, for your encouragement and in particular, the goodwill that you’ve shown to me over the last few days”.

He said that were it not for their friendship and loyalty over the last 16 difficult years, he would not have been able to see it through.

“Yesterday saw the conclusion of a trial that commenced 14 years ago and concluded yesterday with a report that was not based on fact, that was not based on evidence but was engineered to a pre-determined outcome. And for me to come back to my constituency this evening in the face of that kind of adversity and to meet with so many friends and supporters is hugely uplifting and I am very grateful…”

He then felt obliged to explain why he was being trailed into the private meeting by a handful of media types. “This meeting was called this morning at 10.30 because I felt it was important that I would come back to the constituency and meet with you. The reporters here and the journalists, they heard about the meeting and they invited themselves. So I came to an agreement with them that I would introduce myself to you here and then would go and have a word with the journalists. So I’d ask for your patience until I suspend the meeting because tonight’s meeting is a private meeting. I would ask the journalists to go to the front of the hotel…” .

Those words triggered a low roar of approval, rising to a sustained visceral roar, interspersed with chants of “Out. Out. Out…”

On the face of it, they were  giving the detested Dublin media a hiding, and undoubtedly they were having fun. “Get on out with you”, grinned a rather friendly looking man as we trudged out.   Out in the lobby,   their man agreed that “of course” he was feeling emotional. “It has been a traumatic, very difficult week for myself and my family and everyone associated with me. I’m actually relieved the process has reached the stage where the report is now published. My message to the people here is that there’s nothing new in the report, nothing that they hadn’t heard before and as you can see there tonight, my support in the constituency is strong and will remain strong… I get my strength from the people here in my county who know me, who respect me, who admire and appreciate the work that I do on their behalf.”

He will remain a TD. He will be making an application for his costs, he said. And yes, all the messages he had received had been full of good wishes and goodwill.

Nonethless, a small straw in the wind was a woman in the audience who told The Irish Timesbeforehand that she was “very much” a Lowry supporter but said : “I’m here because there ARE questions to be answered by Mr Lowry. I want to hear what he has to say”.