| 8.1°C Dublin

Pressure mounts on Cowen as Greens call for 'more clarity' on incident

Close

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen denies that he tried to evade a garda when he was caught for drink-driving, and disputes a Garda account of the incident. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen denies that he tried to evade a garda when he was caught for drink-driving, and disputes a Garda account of the incident. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen denies that he tried to evade a garda when he was caught for drink-driving, and disputes a Garda account of the incident. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said more clarity is needed on the issue of his coalition colleague Barry Cowen's drink-driving arrest as pressure on the Agriculture Minister continues to mount.

Transport Minister Mr Ryan said Mr Cowen had more explaining to do after he denied at the weekend that he had tried to evade a garda when he was caught drink-driving.

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

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Mr Ryan said he agreed with his party deputy leader, Catherine Martin, that Mr Cowen must provide greater clarity over the incident.

"I do fully agree that there are a range of issues that need to be explained," he said.

"I hope he can provide that clarity in the coming days. I think we need to be clear on what actually happened, who said what and what the record is."

There is renewed pressure on the Agriculture Minister to face a Dáil grilling.

Sinn Féin has called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to ask Mr Cowen to take questions from TDs.

Mr Cowen apologised in the Dáil last week for the 2016 incident that led to him being disqualified for driving for three months. His statement to the Dáil was under rules that did not allow for questions.

Gardaí have 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.

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

She said Mr Cowen had disputed a garda account of the incident and this "points to the need for him to come into the Dáil answer questions".

She said the Taoiseach should ask him to do so.

Speaking earlier in the day, the Greens' deputy leader Catherine Martin said more clarity was needed from Mr Cowen on the incident.

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

Ms Martin told Newstalk Radio that Mr Cowen had made a "serious mistake" and he recognised that.

She said he had "strenuously denied" allegations that he sought to evade gardaí.

Ms Martin said: "None of this distracts from the actual fact that it was a very serious and dangerous mistake what Barry did. 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 in Garda records.

And other ministers rallied around Mr Cowen. Fianna Fáil Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said the Agriculture Minister had made a "heartfelt" apology.

Asked whether Mr Cowen should address the Dáil, Mr McGrath said the minister contested the allegations that emerged at the weekend and the issue was now with Gsoc. He said: "I don't have anything to add to that."

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

"As far as I'm concerned, Minister Cowen has said he is sorry," she said.

"He made a statement to the Dáil and he paid a price for his mistake and he was banned from driving. In fairness, people do make mistakes and it shouldn't be held against them for the rest of their lives."

Irish Independent


Related Content








Driving ban: Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire