Barry Cowen was sacked as a Cabinet minister in the controversy over his drink-driving ban. The saga is by no means over. Cowen is pursuing a number of legal routes and has a high-powered legal team to advance his claims.
is solicitor handling the case is Robert Dore, best known for representing Fr Kevin Reynolds in the defamation case against RTÉ for the 'Prime Time Investigates: Mission to Prey' programme.
Bar Council veteran heavy-hitter Gerry Danaher is advising on any defamation aspects. A contemporary of Michael McDowell and the late Adrian Hardiman, he was a close associate of the late former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. He came to prominence on the State legal team at the Beef Tribunal in the 1990s.
Barrister Darren Lehane has been advising Cowen from the off for the past fortnight and is a pivotal figure. Lehane, an expert on public inquiries, is a former Fianna Fáil local election candidate and the party's go-to lawyer for policy papers on matters such as water charges and rent freezes. A friend of Fianna Fáil TD and fellow barrister Jim O'Callaghan, he is a product of the conveyor belt of party talent from the Donogh O'Malley Cumann in UCC, just like Micheál Martin and Michael McGrath.
He represented John McGuinness at the Disclosures Tribunal and former TD Declan Breathnach in a case taken by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. He's well got and trusted among Fianna Fáil ministers and TDs.
Lehane and a local firm of solicitors in Offaly advised Cowen on his response when the drink-driving ban was first put to Cowen by the Irish Independent a fortnight ago.
Dore came on board last weekend and immediately issued a legal letter, two-and-a-half pages long, to 'The Sunday Times' newspaper as it prepared to publish an allegation about what the Garda record states and which led Cowen to deny any attempt to evade gardaí. Cowen contends the leaking of information is a "criminal offence". Dore has now made an official complaint to the Garda watchdog, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc), about the alleged leak.
"They have confirmed they are now investigating my clients' complaint," he told this newspaper yesterday.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris also referred the alleged leak to the Garda watchdog last Sunday after Cowen issued a statement alleging a "criminal act".
Under the Garda Síochána Act, 2005, the Commissioner is obliged to tell the Justice Minister of "significant developments" in Garda business.
It is understood the new minister, Helen McEntee, has been kept updated by the Commissioner.
Gardaí had begun a preliminary inquiry into the possible leaking of information but that is now parked.
A Gsoc report into the leaking of the arrest of Independent TD Clare Daly on suspicion of drink-driving is key here. The investigation has found information on the arrest was leaked by gardaí to the media in an "unauthorised manner".
The Gsoc report will influence the next steps in the process. Cowen's legal team have notified the Data Protection Commissioner of the complaint to Gsoc and will revert in due course. Cowen says he is "taking steps under the Data Protection Act" to have the record corrected.
Further legal actions under privacy, defamation and data protection laws are possible as Cowen has vowed to "take all necessary steps to vindicate my good name and data protection rights".
Watch this space.
Last week, Cowen requested a copy of his record on the Garda Pulse system. The then agriculture minister rang the Garda to ask for the records. He was told to send in a subject access request, which he did. In light of the urgent nature of the issues, the Garda fast-tracked the request. What is known as a "person record" is a transcript of what is on Pulse regarding Cowen, without details of gardaí or anyone else involved.
The report proved a crucial turning point for the Taoiseach and led to his sacking.
Unlike his snooze later in the week, Eamon Ryan was certainly wide awake and alert as he observed events in the Dáil Chamber on Tuesday afternoon. Micheál Martin was getting skewered by Sinn Féin's on the ongoing Cowen controversy.
Ryan was sitting up the back of lobby of the Dáil Chamber, the circular hallway that wraps around the TDs' benches, watching proceedings intently. Notably, Martin was largely flanked by Fine Gael TDs. As expected by the Taoiseach, his agriculture minister's exploits were centre stage. The Green Party leader looked concerned. However, along with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Ryan was aware of what Martin was up to behind the scenes.
While the Taoiseach flailed around backing his Fianna Fáil minister, he had also issued an ultimatum. Cowen had to come to the Dáil to account for himself or else be gone.
Martin had weathered the storm for Cowen after he had learned of the drink-driving incident. The latest public airing of revelations was too much. But Cowen had ploughed a lone furrow.
The Taoiseach's officials weren't aware of what he was saying publicly when he admitted to the ban and nor were they aware of the statement he issued when the second wave came saying he "did not evade, or attempt to evade, a garda". A copy of the statement Cowen made to the Dáil was provided to the Taoiseach in advance but there was no consultation on the matter. Once Martin eventually got sight of the Garda report, he felt Cowen had to account for his actions.
Martin summed up the clash in approaches in the Dáil on Wednesday, the morning after his dramatic sacking of his minister, just 17 days after his appointment.
"The fundamental difference between myself and Deputy Cowen on this issue is that he took a legal route and a legalistic approach to defend his rights, in his words, as a citizen and as a public representative. In my view, this issue could only be resolved through the political route, that is, by coming before Dáil Éireann," Martin told the Dáil.
Cowen continues to take a legal route, while the political fallout for Martin continues .
"There's a number of disgruntled TDs now who are aggrieved and hurt. If they all stopped bickering and started working, it would be better for the party and government," a supporter of the leader said.
A Fianna Fáil TD explained how senior TDs are concerned this will be party's last term in power for quite some time, following an almost decade-long absence. Failing to get a ministry now may mean never attaining such high office.
Martin is felt to be the last leader to have served in an old style Fianna Fáil government, which dominated Irish politics. Nobody is quite clear where the party will be going next.
Martin's sacking of Cowen has shown Fianna Fáil ministers and TDs he'll let nobody distract from his Government.
The Taoiseach displayed his ruthless streak again, while reaffirming his commitment to stability to his coalition partners. Martin has drawn Varadkar and Ryan closer but driven his party further away from his project in the process.
Fianna Fáil's 'Last Dance' will be a lonely one for Micheál Martin.