VETERAN Fine Gael TD PJ 'Paddy' Sheehan (77) -- at the centre of the drink-drive controversy -- has issued an apology to the female garda he allegedly threatened outside Leinster House last summer.
The West Cork TD is alleged to have threatened that the female garda would not be promoted after she intervened to prevent him getting into his car while heavily intoxicated in the early hours.
A garda sergeant later made a formal report about the incident on July 8 and said he was "shocked" at how the garda was treated simply for doing her duty.
Mr Sheehan -- who has been in politics for five decades -- said: "I wish to offer a full and unreserved apology for my behaviour on July 8 in the environs of Leinster House.
"This behaviour was totally out of character in my 30 years in politics.
"In particular I offer my deepest apologies to the gardai on duty that night who were carrying out their duty in exemplary fashion.
"I also deeply regret the embarrassment this incident has caused the Fine Gael Party, its leader (Enda Kenny), my colleagues in the party, my constituents in Cork South West and my wife and family.
"I intend writing a letter expressing my deep personal apologies and regrets to the gardai in question."
Mr Sheehan's apology was issued following day-long consultations between the TD -- who was in West Cork yesterday -- and senior FG party officials.
The controversy erupted after a female garda claimed that, at 1am on July 8 last, Mr Sheehan was very intoxicated as he approached his car near Leinster House.
TDs were leaving the Dail following the last session before the lengthy summer recess.
When the garda tried to prevent him from using his car, Mr Sheehan is alleged to have threatened her that her actions would damage her future career.
In an official Garda report, it is alleged that Mr Sheehan told the garda she would never get promoted. "When we get into power you will get nothing," the report said he warned.
It is alleged that Mr Sheehan was so drunk that he required assistance just to remain upright.
Mr Sheehan had earlier vehemently denied that he "threatened" or had any physical contact whatsoever with the garda.
The veteran TD also previously claimed that the allegations were being made to "belittle him" in the Dail by people who were jealous of him. "The matter is null and void now as far as I am concerned -- it is over with. That's it," he said.
However, the Garda sergeant on duty that night outside Leinster House later spoke to FG leader Enda Kenny as he left the Dail campus and is said to have been told to "ignore what Mr Sheehan had said."
The Garda sergeant later told his superiors that he was "shocked" by the treatment meted out by an elected representative to the female garda who was only doing her job in a highly professional manner.
Mr Sheehan spent yesterday at his home to the rear of the family's grocery and newsagents shop in Goleen.