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Gardai standing by disputed drink-driving record that led to Barry Cowen sacking

The Agriculture Minister's future always hung on the staunch support of the Taoiseach, but last week he lost it, report Hugh O'Connell and Maeve Sheehan

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Barry Cowen and Micheál Martin in 2016. Picture: Tom Burke

Barry Cowen and Micheál Martin in 2016. Picture: Tom Burke

Barry Cowen and Micheál Martin in 2016. Picture: Tom Burke

Micheal Martin's phone pinged at 7.30am last Tuesday with a message that changed everything and would ultimately force him to sack Barry Cowen as Agriculture Minister just 12 hours later.

Cowen spent much of his ill-fated 17 days as a member of the Cabinet dealing with the fallout from an incident that occurred nearly four years ago - the circumstances of which are now the subject of three separate probes by State agencies and a potential defamation action against a newspaper.

On the night of September 18, 2016, Cowen was breathalysed by gardai at Kilshanroe, near Carbury, Co Kildare, on his way home from Dublin where he had attended the All-Ireland final at Croke Park. He was found to be over the limit and was later hit with a three-month road ban, a fixed charge notice and a €200 fine.