Irish Examiner View: Credibility on the line already

Barry Cowen’s confession.
Irish Examiner View: Credibility on the line already
New Minister for Agriculture, FF TD, Barry Cowen, has confirmed that he was banned from driving in 2016 for 3 moths, due to drink driving and failed to pass on this information to new Taoiseach and party leader Micheál Martin, when offered the position of minister in the new Cabinet.  Picture: Rollingnews.ie
New Minister for Agriculture, FF TD, Barry Cowen, has confirmed that he was banned from driving in 2016 for 3 moths, due to drink driving and failed to pass on this information to new Taoiseach and party leader Micheál Martin, when offered the position of minister in the new Cabinet.  Picture: Rollingnews.ie

Barry Cowen’s confession.

That a TD, living 100km from the Dáil, did not, at the age of 49, have a full driving licence may not be as bizarre as a finance minister without a bank account, but it is remarkable and pregnant with déjà vu.

That, in 2016, that TD served a three-month drink-driving ban and was fined €200, a token sanction because of his learner status, adds to the sense of slapstick.

That the representative, Barry Cowen, the agriculture minister, chose not to tell his leader, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, of his conviction adds deception to the charge sheet.

That Mr Martin had to be told of the conviction is am embarrassment he could have done without. What was described by Mr Cowen as a “terribly stupid mistake” was the latest in a series of mishaps that marred the Taoiseach’s first week.

The conviction is the primary issue, but Mr Cowen’s subsequent behaviour raises questions about whether he has the judgment or trustworthiness to sit at Cabinet.

He cannot have sensibly imagined the conviction could remain secret, but by doing so he showed childish misjudgment. Had he done the right thing, his offence would have been all but forgotten by now.

Mr Martin might like to involve his coalition partners in this sad episode, but the responsibility is his alone. Because of the nature of this coalition, its novelty and the importance of trust in realising its potential, his options are very limited, if the Government’s credibility is to survive.

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