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Barry Cowen ministerial sacking was 'particularly personally difficult', Micheál Martin says

Barry Cowen was sacked from his role as Minister for Agriculture by Martin last week.

File image of Barry Cowen and Micheál Martin in 2016.
File image of Barry Cowen and Micheál Martin in 2016.
Image: Leah Farrell

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the Barry Cowen drink-driving controversy and subsequent sacking was a “particularly personally difficult” situation.

The Taoiseach said he “felt very sorry” for what happened with Cowen but that he did what he “had to do”. 

Earlier this month, the former Agriculture Minister was sacked from his position weeks after it emerged he was issued with a three-month driving ban in 2016 for being over the legal alcohol limit. 

Cowen had come under fire after the revelations and was sacked from the ministerial role last week over his refusal to answer questions about the issues in the Dáil. 

Speaking on The Tonight Show on Virgin Media Television, Micheál Martin said: “I’m not saying there hasn’t been [problems] and it’s been very difficult, and the situation with Barry Cowen was particularly personally difficult for me, but particularly difficult as well for Barry Cowen.

“He did great work in helping to formulate this government and was a critical person in the negotiations.

“I felt very sorry for Barry in terms of what happened and what transpired. I certainly didn’t want to be in that situation.”

“I had to do what I had to do,” Martin said when asked if he regrets the decision to sack Cowen from his position.

“My own view is I think we took different routes. Barry was very conscious of his rights having been violated in terms of his personal data being released.”

Cowen had disputed the details of a Garda report stating he performed – or attempted to perform – a U-turn after approaching the garda checkpoint in 2016. 

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The TD sent a statement to the media, saying: “I did not evade, or attempt to evade, a Garda.”

He told Midlands radio last Saturday that that he is “not a victim” in this situation.

“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.”

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