Fianna Fáil TD, Jim McDaid, posed for the photograph with Mr Byrne in a hotel in Letterkenny two weeks ago. Mr McDaid was at the hotel to formally launch his campaign to be re-elected in the Donegal North East constituency.
Mr Byrne was at the hotel with friends having completed a charity walk in the area earlier that day, and was invited to pose with Mr McDaid and his campaign manager Terry McEniff for the photo.
The row arose because Mr McDaid was convicted of drink driving in 2005, and Mr Byrne is chairman of the Road Safety Authority.
Mr McDaid apologised earlier this week for any suggestion that he had compromised Mr Byrne’s stance, saying the photo was a perfectly innocent one.
But independent councillor, Jimmy Harte, who will also contest the constituency in the election, said yesterday: “He (Gay Byrne) comes along to Donegal and gets himself photographed with someone who was convicted of drink driving. Both of them are high-profile personalities, both of them knew exactly what they were doing.”
Asked if he believed the photograph was taken for political reasons, Mr Harte replied: “It wasn’t going to be placed on the mantelpiece of someone’s house.”
But Mr McDaid has hit back, accusing Mr Harte of dirty politics.
“I’m not worried about what Jimmy Harte has to say, or his opinion on it. I think it’s rather warped-minded and small-minded.”
Referring to his drink-driving conviction, Mr McDaid said: “I must go around forever with my crime pinned to my back.
“I said I was sorry about what happened in the past, too, and I still am sorry, and I will forever regret that (crime).”
Both men were talking on the Eamon Keane Show on the NewsTalk radio station.