NOT for the first time in his political career a photograph has landed Fianna Fail TD Jim McDaid in hot water.
The beleaguered former government minister yesterday apologised to Road Safety Authority Chairman Gay Byrne for any compromise that might have been caused by posing for a photograph with him on the night of his election campaign launch.
The picture, which appeared in a local newspaper, showed Gay Byrne standing between Dr McDaid and his director of elections, Terry McEniff, at the launch of Dr McDaid's election campaign in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, last weekend.
Dr McDaid, who has a drink driving conviction, said he was sorry if the photograph featuring the two of them had compromised Gay Byrne's position as chairman of the National Road Safety Authority.
"I can assure Gay Byrne that I was never going to use the photo in any political capacity and I'm quite sure that he would understand that as well," he said.
His apology follows criticism from independent election candidate Jimmy Harte, who questioned Mr Byrne's judgment as chairman of the Road Safety Authority in allowing himself to be pictured with a convicted drink driver.
Also referring to Gay Byrne's call for a debate on the legalisation of drugs, Mr Harte, a local councillor, said that he had made serious misjudgements and could no longer continue in his current position.
Dr McDaid insisted that the picture had happened by accident and accused his opponent of playing "dirty politics".
"Gay Byrne was in the same hotel attending a different function on the night. It was a totally innocent photograph.
"Never in any way was it my intention to compromise him and I am sorry if I have compromised him in that position," he said.
On the night in question, the former presenter of the Late Late Show was at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny having completed a long walk that day with a group of friends. Gathering in the lobby at the same time were members of Fianna Fail in Donegal North East, who were at the hotel for the launch of Dr McDaid's election campaign.
According to observers, Mr Byrne, who was dressed casually, stepped into the picture being taken by the Tirconaill Tribune photographer after having being invited to do so by one of the group.
Dr McDaid was convicted of drink driving after being arrested for driving down the wrong side of a dual carriageway in Co Kildare almost two years ago.
In 1991, he was forced to withdraw his name as contender for the position of justice minister after Fine Gael produced a photograph in the Dail which showed Dr McDaid shaking hands with a man they claimed was a member of the IRA.