Opposition presses Martin on when he knew of Cowen drink driving details

Opposition presses Martin on when he knew of Cowen drink driving details
Labour's Alan Kelly 

Opposition leaders responded to Barry Cowen’s sacking by heaping pressure on Taoiseach Micheál Martin as to when he knew of the details of the drink driving incident in 2016.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said the Taoiseach set a record as regards firing a Minister in the quickest time ever - 17 days.

“It is quite confusing listening to the Taoiseach's contribution now and what he has said over the past week or two because not an awful lot has changed since July 3 when the story broke and the Taoiseach's awareness of issues,” he said.

He queried as to how Mr Cowen was able to get access to his Garda file so quickly.

“How did the Minister, Deputy Cowen, receive the data from An Garda Síochána? It usually takes between one and three months. 

"How was the information provided to the then Minister, Deputy Cowen? 

"Was it expedited for some reason and how is that justified in the case of a Minister? Citizens do not get PULSE files,” he asked.

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said many were left scratching their heads as to what changed between 2pm and 9pm on Tuesday.

“The truth, however, is that the Taoiseach knew this whole sorry story from the very beginning, unlike the rest of us who learned of it piecemeal. 

"Did the Taoiseach share the full story with the Tánaiste and with the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, on July 4, when he learned the full story, or did he feed it to them piecemeal?” she asked.

RISE TD Paul Murphy said the Taoiseach relied very heavily on the fact he did not get a copy of the Garda report until Tuesday morning but he knew of its existence on July 3.

The Taoiseach tried to wriggle out of that by saying it was what a journalist told him and he did not know what was in the report. 

"However, the point is he knew the significance of that at that time,” he added.

“Is it not the case that the Taoiseach relied on legal threats to gag the media?" he said. 

"He agreed with Deputy Cowen that, in making his full statement on July 7, he would not tell the Dáil about the existence of this Garda report and the reference to evading the checkpoint because the Taoiseach and Deputy Cowen thought at that point that the legal threats had done their job. 

They thought the media would not publish and they would be able to move on,” Mr Murphy said.


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