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Independent Alliance Minister Finian McGrath
over the top

Finian McGrath claims he was 'thrown under the bus' by other ministers over drink-driving remarks

He previously claimed the new laws were being implemented unfairly.

THE MINISTER OF State with Special Responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath, claims he “was thrown under the bus” by some ministerial colleagues over remarks he made about the new drink-driving laws.

Speaking to Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ Radio 1, the Independent Alliance TD claimed that the reaction from some of his political colleagues was “over the top”.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent last month, McGrath suggested that gardaí engaged in political policing in how they enforced the new drink-driving laws.

He said that he had received complaints about gardaí breathalysing people on the way to picking up children in school or going to Mass. 

“To me, the breathalysing time should be at pub closing time between 12 o’clock and 2am in the morning,” he said.

“That’s where the focus should be, so I don’t know what agenda is going on there.” 

He subsequently apologised and withdrew his remarks following strong criticism from his Cabinet colleagues, after Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan in particular said his comments were “bewildering and bizarre”.

Speaking today, McGrath once again reiterated his support for the new laws, and said he was “very anti drink driving” and that he agreed with a “zero tolerance” approach towards drink-driving.

However, the junior Minister also hit out at the political reaction to his comments.

“I thought the reaction afterwards was a bit over the top… from all sectors of the political system,” McGrath said.

“I understand totally that Charlie…I know Charlie very well in relation to his portfolio [which] is the gardaí and [the Department of] Justice and he takes responsibility, but when other Ministers jump in and throw me under the bus, I didn’t like that at all.”

McGrath also thanked those who supported him privately during the controversy, and called on the government to pull together and accept he was wrong.

“I was very impressed with Richard Bruton, Simon Coveney, the Taoiseach himself for his great support,” he added.

“People know we’re in a partnership government. I’m an Independent. People make mistakes, if they accept responsibility for their mistakes we should accept that and move on from there.”

He also said that he had spoken to the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris about his comments, and apologised to him personally.

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