Micheál Martin says Garda record of Barry Cowen's drink-driving charge 'not quite as portrayed'

Micheál Martin says Garda record of Barry Cowen's drink-driving charge 'not quite as portrayed'
Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD arriving to a Government Cabinet meeting at yesterday at Dublin Castle. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Taoiseach has confirmed he has seen the official Garda record of Barry Cowen's drink-driving charge.

The embattled Agriculture Minister disputes the Pulse record of the incident in 2016 which states Mr Cowen attempted a U-turn and to drive away upon seeing 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 is taking steps under the Data Protection Act to have the record changed.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil during Leader's Questions that Mr Cowen brought the record to him on Tuesday morning and the document is “not quite as portrayed”.

File Photo: Embattled Minister for Agriculture Barry Cowen with Taoiseach Micheal Martin, when offered the position of minister in the new Cabinet. Picture: RollingNews.ie
File Photo: Embattled Minister for Agriculture Barry Cowen with Taoiseach Micheal Martin, when offered the position of minister in the new Cabinet. Picture: RollingNews.ie

She added that a government minister challenging the garda record was a "very very serious matter", and that it was "extraordinary" that the Taoiseach "stood over" Mr Cowen's statement to the Dáil last week when he was aware that such a record existed, and therefore the statement was "incomplete".

"You have confirmed that you did know about Garda pulse record and the allegations about evading the checkpoint before Mr Cowen made his statement, I find that extraordinary, that you would stand over an incomplete statement to this Dáil," Ms McDonald said.

"You were aware there was another twist in the tale."

"I believe a newspaper said I was told, I can't verify without seeing the document myself," Mr Martin replied.

"It's not my record to publish, don't be making suggestions that are untrue. "Minister Cowen was unaware of what was on the record until he got his hands on it. I wasn't going to be prejudging until I see the record for myself."

The Taoiseach also confirmed that he had kept his partners in government, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan informed about the ongoing issue.

The matter has now been to the Garda Ombudsman after Mr Cowen claimed disclosure of the information to a media outlet was a "flagrant breach of the criminal law" and an "attempt to cause me the maximum personal and political harm".

There have been a number of calls for Mr Cowen to return to the Dáil and take questions on what happened on the night in question.

"It is clear that Minister Cowen will have to come before the house and take questions on all of these issues," Ms McDonald said.

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