Anybody who has been following this case over the last few weeks will be aware of Lowry’s non declaration in the Dail Register of Member’s Interest of his ownership of 11 acres of land in Tipperary:The Oireachtas register of members’ interests states Mr Lowry is a director of Abbeygreen Consulting Ltd and of Garuda Ltd.
A business premises in Tipperary owned by Garuda is declared in Mr Lowry’s entry in the register where members are asked to declare land they own.
However, Mr Lowry does not make any such declaration in relation to land owned by Abbeygreen.
Files in the Land Registry show Abbeygreen is the full owner of land at Gortnahoe, near Two-Mile Borris, in Co Tipperary.
The company is registered as having become the owner of the land on May 9th, 2011, two months after the Moriarty report was published.
The Committee on Members Interests considered the matter and ruled that there was no onus on a TD to declare any assets of a company he/she has a interest in once his/her directorship is declared.
This is the text of the letter sent to Lowry:
The letter to Deputy Lowry states, “The Committee considered the matter at it’s meeting of today’s date ( 26 April). The Committee noted that you had included in the Register of Members Interests, your directorship of Garuda Ltd and Abbeygreen Consulting Ltd. The advice of the Committee is that, once a member has declared his/her directorship of a company, it is not a requirement that land and/or other assets of that company be declared/registered. The holdings of a company are not registrable interests of an individual member, within the meaning of the Ethics in Public Offices Act 1995 and 2001.
Why should any member of the Oireachtas now declare ownership of anything? Why not just set up a company and move one’s assets to that company?
This ruling surely means that there is a gaping hole in the SIPO legislation which can now be availed of to avoid scrutiny in the future.
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