Barry Cowen says garda record of drink driving incident is "incorrect"

Barry Cowen says garda record of drink driving incident is
File Photo. Pressure mounts on Barry Cowen again as he calls for gardaí to correct details of drink driving arrest. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen has disputed the garda record of his drink driving offence.

An article in the Sunday Times states the record of the incident in 2016 details how Mr Cowen attempted a U-turn and tried to drive away from the garda checkpoint.

The Laois-Offaly TD was found to be over the limit while driving himself and a friend home from the All-Ireland football final on September 18. He was banned from driving for three months and received a €200 fine.

Mr Cowen released a statement accusing gardai of a "criminal offence" for disclosing details of the record. He has also denies trying to evade a garda checkpoint and claims the garda record was "incorrect".

“The Sunday Times has today published an article referring to an incorrect Garda record dealing with the incident which occurred on 18 September 2016 despite the fact that my solicitors wrote to the newspaper in advance of publication," the statement said.

I did not evade, or attempt to evade, a Garda. Such an act would constitute a serious criminal offence and I was not charged with such an offence. On being informed of its existence I sought a copy of this incorrect record and am taking steps under the Data Protection Act to have it corrected.

“This incorrect Garda record can only have come into the possession of the newspaper through a criminal act. It is a criminal offence for a member of An Garda Siochana to disclose any information obtained in the course of his or her duties."

The statement added: “It is obvious that the disclosure of this information at this time in flagrant breach of the criminal law and my rights under data protection law is a disgraceful attempt to cause me the maximum personal and political harm," the statement added.

“By publishing this story the Sunday Times has consciously participated in, and facilitated, this and I will be instructing my lawyers to take all necessary steps to vindicate my good name and data protection rights."

Mr Cowen's statement suggests An Garda Siochana has commenced a criminal investigation into the source of this leak. 

A garda spokesman told the Examiner they are holding a "preliminary examination to ascertain whether an investigation should be held into whether a third party had access to information related to an individual."

However, following the minister's statement, the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has now referred the matter to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) to investigate a possible criminal offence.


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