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Fresh demand for Barry Cowen to face Dáil questions on drink-driving incident

  • Sinn Féin TD Louise O'Reilly said Mr Cowen 'needs to come into the Dáil... and answer questions'

  • Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin said more 'clarity' is needed from Mr Cowen
  • Minister Thomas Byrne denies being source of revelations about Cowen's drink-driving


APOLOGY: Barry Cowen said he made a ‘stupid, stupid mistake’

APOLOGY: Barry Cowen said he made a ‘stupid, stupid mistake’

APOLOGY: Barry Cowen said he made a ‘stupid, stupid mistake’

MINISTER Barry Cowen should answer questions in the Dáil about his drink-driving incident, Sinn Féin has said.

It comes as Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin also said more "clarity" is needed from Mr Cowen on the issue.

Mr Cowen apologised in the Dáil last week for the 2016 incident which saw him disqualified for driving for three months.

His statement to the Dáil was under rules that did not allow for questions.

Agriculture Minister Mr Cowen is under pressure to answer questions in the Dáil.

It comes as he denied at the weekend that he tried to evade a garda when he was caught drink-driving.

Mr Cowen says the official Garda record of the incident is “incorrect” and is demanding that it be changed.


Minister of State Thomas Byrne

Minister of State Thomas Byrne

Minister of State Thomas Byrne

Gardaí had launched an internal probe into the possible leaking of information about Mr Cowen's drink-driving ban.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris will refer the matter to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) for investigation.

This afternoon senior Sinn Féin TD Louise O'Reilly said Mr Cowen "needs to come into the Dáil... and answer questions".

She said Mr Cowen has disputed a garda account of the incident.

"The fact that this is disputed I think now points to the need for him to come into the Dáil answer questions."

She said Taoiseach Micheál Martin should ask him to do so.

There was also renewed pressure from the Green Party - Fianna Fáil's coalition partners - for Mr Cowen to provide "clarity" on the the drink-driving issue.

The Green Party has previously said there were outstanding questions on why was still driving on a learner permit aged 49 when the incident took place.

Deputy leader Catherine Martin today told Newstalk Radio that Mr Cowen had made a "serious mistake" and he recognised that.

She said he has "strenuously denied" allegations that he sought to evade Gardaí on the day he was caught and that Mr Cowen is seeking to have the records relating to the case changed.

Ms Martin noted that the gardaí have launched an internal probe on a possible leak.

She told Newstalk: "None of this distracts form the actual fact that it was a very serious and dangerous mistake what Barry did. I think we’ll have to see what… More questions have arisen over the weekend and more clarity is needed."

Mr Cowen declined an opportunity from RTÉ to comment further on the disputed account of the drink-driving incident.

Asked if the Taoiseach had spoken to him about the issue he said: "I’ll be saying nothing else on that matter... under legal advice I’ve been advised not to comment any further".

He added: "I have apologised on numerous occasions. I have been very sincere and honest in anything I’ve had to say about the matter."

Fine Gael Minister Heather Humphreys said Mr Cowen's drink-driving was "wrong" but stopped short of saying he needs to speak to the Dáil about the issue again.

She said: "As far as I'm concerned, you know, Minister Cowen has said he is sorry.

"He made a statement to the Dáil and he paid a price for his mistake and he was banned from driving."

Ms Humphreys told RTÉ that he "apologised unreservedly" adding: "In fairness people do make mistakes and it shouldn't be held against them for the rest of their lives."

Earlier today, Minister Thomas Byrne has denied being the source of the revelations about Barry Cowen's drink-driving incident and insisted he's on "good terms" with his Fianna Fáil colleague.

Mr Byrne made the denial this morning after an online claim that it was the Meath East TD who gave the story to the media.

Last week a Fianna Fáil activist, Ken Mc Fadden, took to Twitter to claim that it was Europe Minister Mr Byrne who gave the story to the media.

He alleged that Mr Byrne told him he did this during a phone call at 1:30 on the morning after the Cabinet was formed.

Mr McFadden claimed that Mr Byrne was "bitter at not making Cabinet".

Mr Byrne responded to the claim that he was the source of the story about Mr Cowen in an interview on LMFM Radio's The Michael Reade Show.

He said: "In relation to those particular claims I think it’s pretty clear now that I am not possibly the source of this particular story.

"I think that’s very, very clear."

Mr Byrne added: "I think we now see that there’s a Garda investigation.

"There’s a civil matter in relation to this. It does not involve me. I’m on good terms with Barry Cowen. I remain on good terms with Barry Cowen."

Mr Byrne said Mr McFadden "was a friend of mine" and he was "in touch with a lot of my friends that day."

Asked if he had fallen out with Mr McFadden he replied: "I’m not going to discuss personal relationships."

Mr Byrne denied he had called him as late as 1:30am and said: "It was probably before 1".

Asked if he had told Mr McFadden that he had done anything due to his disappointment at not being made a senior minister Mr Byrne responded "no".

He said he "absolutely" refutes Mr McFadden's claim.

Mr Byrne was asked if he was going to take a defamation case against Mr McFadden.

He said: "quite frankly I have been considering all my options" and added: "I have been in constant contact with my legal advisers about all of these issues."

Mr Byrne said "We are now facing into one of the most important weeks in the last few years in terms of our European Affairs, in terms of the budget for the next few years."

He indicated that this would impact on any decision he takes.

Mr Byrne said that as a legal professional that worked in the area of defamation "these things take up all of your time".

Online Editors

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