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New Marine Minister Regrets Drink Driving Incident in 2016

6th July 2020
Barry Cowen on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme on Sunday Barry Cowen on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme on Sunday Photo: RTÉ screen shot

Newly appointed marine minister Barry Cowen has said he regrets an incident where he was disqualified from driving four years ago after being breathalysed.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly and brother of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who was appointed to the marine and agriculture portfolio in the new government, described his disqualification for drink-driving as a "terribly stupid mistake".

He was speaking on RTÉ’s The Week on Politics after media reports about his disqualification, and the fact that his party leader, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, had not known about the incident until after his appointment.

Mr Cowen said he was humiliated and embarrassed by what had happened, and had to accept responsibility for a "serious lapse of judgement".

Mr Cowen was stopped at a road checkpoint and breathalysed on his way home from Dublin after the All-Ireland football final in September 2016.

He was found to be over the limit and was issued with a fixed charge penalty notice, a €200 fine, and was disqualified from driving for three months. He was on a provisional driving license at the time.

Mr Martin said he only found out about the incident on Friday and was disappointed that he had not been told about it by Mr Cowen before then.

Mr Cowen conceded that "maybe" he should have told his party leader about his disqualification, and said he had previously supported legislation on drink-driving.

He said that "maybe" he should have stood up in the Dáil or Irish parliament and "led from the front on this issue and acknowledged (his) terrible mistake".

Ireland’s Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport Eamon Ryan, who is leader of the Green Party which has formed a three-way coalition government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, said Mr Cowen had apologised to his colleagues.

Mr Ryan said there was a lesson to be learned that nobody was exempt from the law.

Published in News Update
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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