Barry Cowen admits drink driving ban was 'stupid mistake'

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen has admitted he made a "stupid, stupid mistake" after he was caught drink-driving in 2016.
Barry Cowen admits drink driving ban was 'stupid mistake'
Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen has admitted he made a "stupid, stupid mistake" after he was caught drink-driving in 2016. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen has admitted he made a "stupid, stupid mistake" after he was caught drink-driving in 2016.

Last week, it was revealed Mr Cowen had served a drink-driving ban in 2016.

He was stopped at a garda checkpoint on his way home to Offaly after he attended the All-Ireland Football final in Dublin.

Mr Cowen was found to be over the limit. He received a €200 fine and was disqualified from driving for three months. He has apologised to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who only learned of the ban last Friday.

Speaking to RTÉ's Week In Politics, Mr Cowen said his ban was "marginal", but accepted the "criticism" and "ridicule" that comes with ban being made public.

"It was a terribly, stupid, stupid mistake on my part. It's something that I'm very regretful for, it's something that I'm publicity associated with it now, which is part of the punishment which is only right and proper.

"I'm in public life, I have to accept responsibility for my actions, it was a serious lapse of judgment. And I wasn't raised that way. I have a wife and family and young children, kids in their early 20s some of them and it's no example to them."

Mr Cowen, who was 49 at the time, admitted he was driving on a provisional licence when he was stopped but has since "regularised" this and obtained his full licence.

He claimed he was not driving unaccompanied at the time, but admitted doing so at times.

Mr Cowen said he "should have led from the front" on the issue of drink-driving, but he was "naively" trying to get on with his job.

He said that despite not telling his party leader about the ban and keeping it from the public, he believes he is fit for ministerial office.

He urged others to "think of him" if they were planning to drink and drive.

"I would appeal to people who are thinking of taking a drink and driving to think again, and think of me and think of the ramifications that I have rightly suffered, and maybe it might cause them not to take that risk."

Mr Cowen admitted he had the "same issues" as anyone else in relation to parking and speeding but had no other road traffic incidents.

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