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'It's a hard price to pay': Barry Cowen says he is 'not a victim' following sacking as Agriculture Minister

The Offaly-based TD was removed from office by the Taoiseach earlier this week.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

FIANNA FÁIL TD Barry Cowen has insisted that he is “not a victim” in the controversy surrounding his sacking as Minister for Agriculture this week.

The Offaly-based TD also revealed that he has not spoken to Taoiseach Micheál Martin since his removal from office in his first interview following his sacking.

Cowen had come under fire in recent weeks after it emerged he was issued with a three-month driving ban in 2016 for being over the legal alcohol limit.

He was sacked by Martin from his ministerial role on Tuesday night, just weeks after his appointment, over his refusal to answer questions about the issue in the Dáil.

Although he expressed his disappointment with the decision in the immediate aftermath of his removal from office, Cowen told Midlands radio this morning that part of his job as a politician and public representative was to be held to account by the public.

“I’m not a victim. It’s the consequences of an unfortunate mistake that I’ve paid a dear price for,” he said.

“There are some outstanding issues… I have processes by which to seek rectification, and I’ll do that. But ultimately, it’s a hard price to pay for such an event.

“I’ve apologised on many occasions. And I’ll do so again to my constituents and to the general public.”

However, he suggested his wife and family also had to deal with the consequences of the controversy.

“We’re tough we’re and resilient and I have a strong family, and a strong community and in Tullamore and beyond,” he said.

“And there’s a strong organisation and political party that I’m a member of that has been very good to me, and I will always seek to return that to them.”

Cowen explained that he has not spoken to Taoiseach Micheál Martin since his sacking earlier this week. He further outlined how he believed his sacking was down to a difference of opinion between them.

He has questioned reports suggesting he attempted to evade gardaí at the time he was found to be driving over the limit, and two investigations that are underway by the Data Protection Commissioner and GSOC into the leaking of his Garda file.

“I think that there is the potential for me to see the correct rectification of this issue, and there are processes that I’ve engaged in that I can’t comment on a whole lot more,” he said.

“There are processes, there is legislation in place that offers citizens opportunities to pursue such rectification.

“I’m engaging in that when I couldn’t engage in a process within the Dáil that could undermine or demean or prejudice those opportunities that I have.

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“I had an aspiration to move in that direction. The Taoiseach felt otherwise, and that’s where we differed, and ultimately we couldn’t stay on the same team if that was the case.”

Cowen said his focus now was on “picking himself up, dusting himself down” and getting back to work representing his constituency in the Dáil.

He added that he had a good job before he became a minister, and also suggested that he “might be again”.

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