Barry Cowen statement branded 'a hollow exercise' without facing TDs' questions

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen will not face questions from TDs when he addresses the Dáil on his drink-driving ban tonight.
Barry Cowen statement branded 'a hollow exercise' without facing TDs' questions
Barry Cowen will not face questions from TDs when he addresses the Dáil on his drink-driving ban.
Barry Cowen will not face questions from TDs when he addresses the Dáil on his drink-driving ban.

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen will not face questions from TDs when he addresses the Dáil on his drink-driving ban tonight.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail has told TDs that there is no provision in the Dáil's standing orders to allow for such a session.

There is, however, provision to allow for TDs to make personal statements.

As such, Mr Cowen will be allowed to make a statement on the matter which will be entered into the Dáil record.

No TDs will be allowed to raise questions on his statement.

On Friday was revealed that Mr Cowen had served a drink-driving ban in 2016.

Mr Cowen was stopped at a garda checkpoint in 2016 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 and 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 on Friday.

However, questions remain as to the status of Mr Cowen's licence at the time, as well as other offences which he has racked up.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that Mr Cowen's Dáil statement would be "appropriate", but Rise TD Paul Murphy said that without questions and answers, it will be a hollow exercise.

"Even Eamon Ryan has said that he has questions about it.

This isn't just a statement on an issue of the day, it's a statement by a minister on an issue of controversy.

"With no space, for questions, you're hoping that he'll answer the questions in his statement, but there's a lot of outstanding questions here.

"The government is effectively avoiding the accountability of a minister. It's an issue of precedent for us.

"We can't establish a new precedent where a minister can make a statement and that's it."

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