By Noel Dundon
The people of North Tipperary have gone into defensive overdrive this week as criticisms continue to be heaped on the voting public from elements of the national media for having re-elected poll topping Deputy Michael Lowry in the General Election.
Branded “idiots” by one journalist in a national newspaper yesterday (Tuesday) the 48,789 adults across The Premier County were left seething at the level of disdain and disrespect heaped upon them, despite the fact that 65% did not give Deputy Lowry their number one vote in the election.
Lorry loads of newsprint and ink have been utilised in finding new ways of lambasting the public of North Tipperary who have been called everything from hicks, to backwoodspeople, to rednecks and unintelligent morons over the last few days. And, locals have had enough and are beginning to hit back with Lowry, and non-Lowry, people alike expressing their anger at the sustained attacks on them and on their right to elect whoever they wish in a democratic process.
The fightback began on Thursday evening in the Anner Hotel when Deputy Lowry returned home to a partisan attendance under the glare of media spotlight - a media which had “invited themselves” as he put it. The Tipperary Star, however, had been informed of the meeting and was invited to attend.
Describing the last sixteen years as being “very traumatic” Deputy Lowry insisted that comparing him to Charlie Haughey was very unfair. “In my case I have been able to account for every single penny that has gone through my personal and business accounts over a twenty year period. It is my belief that no individual should be subjected to the level of scrutiny by the State that I have been,” said Deputy Lowry who added that he will not be resigning and will, most likely, contest the next General Election also.
The national media came in for scathing criticism at the ‘homecoming’ with shouts of ‘Get Out’ reverberating throughout the function room after an emotional Deputy Lowry had asked them to leave - he took questions from the media for some time afterwards in the reception of the hotel.
Just short of 400 supporters had turned up to embrace Deputy Lowry at the impromptu meeting; the people from whom, he said, he gets his strength; “the people who know me, admire me and trust me. Support for me in the constituency throughout all this has always been steadfast because the people here understand that this trial is unjust. I have always been open and forthright with them and what you are seeing now is a show of solidarity. These are the people who work for me at election time and play a big role for me. They understand the way of rural life - when I need them, they are there for me, and when they need me, I am there for them,” said Deputy Lowry who looked tired and weary from all the recent attention.
The under-fire Holycross man has stoutly defended his reputation in light of the damning Moriarty Report published last week and insists that he did not interfere with the granting of the second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone during his time as Minister to Transport Communications and Energy.
Deputy Lowry has been under sustained attack since last Tuesday but has remained steadfast in his summation that the report by Justice Michael Moriarty is fundamentally flawed.
Deputy Lowry last night faced down Dail Eireann to defend his name and reiterated that he has no intention of resigning.