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Sam Boal/ Dara Calleary (file photo).
# Fianna Fáil
Dara Calleary appointed new Agriculture Minister following sacking of Barry Cowen
Cowen was sacked from the role last night amid a drink-driving controversy.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 15th 2020, 6:03 PM

DARA CALLEARY HAS BEEN appointed as the new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The news comes after Barry Cowen was sacked from the role last night amid a drink-driving controversy.

Jack Chambers will take over Calleary’s role as Government Chief Whip, as well as the role as Minister for the Gaeltacht and Sport.

Seán Fleming will become Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for financial services, credit unions and insurance. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he believes Calleary will be a “very effective minister” and lead the government’s response to challenges facing the agriculture industry such as Brexit, addressing climate change concerns, and renegotiating the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

“It is crucial for our country to have a strong, progressive, sustainable and resilient agri-food sector. It is one of the most important indigenous sectors, providing well over 170,000 jobs and accounting for 10% of Irish exports,” Martin said.

He wished Calleary, a Mayo TD and Fianna Fáil’s deputy leader, well in the new role. Calleary was seen as the favourite to replace Cowen, after being snubbed in the initial round of ministerial appointments.

President Michael D Higgins this afternoon formally appointed Calleary to his role. 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said his thoughts are with Barry Cowen and his family, acknowledging that it’s tough to lose a ministerial role. 

He said that he was informed by the Taoiseach in “a timely and effective manner” about the issue, and he looks forward to working with Calleary, Chambers and Fleming.

“There are real issues and real questions in terms of how a person’s private personal data is put into the public, and we have to look at that in different ways,” Ryan said.

In a statement to, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) said that it has received “a preliminary breach notification from An Garda Síochána overnight and we are currently assessing it”.


Following revelations by the Irish Independent that in 2016 Cowen was banned from driving for three months after testing over the drink-drive alcohol limit while on a provisional licence, explanations have been sought from the Laois-Offaly TD.

At the weekend, the Sunday Times published a story claiming that the official Garda report of the incident at the checkpoint indicated that Cowen had attempted to evade gardaí – a claim he strenuously denies.

Cowen has asked for an internal investigation of the Garda report of the incident, gardaí have begun an internal investigation, and the Garda Ombudsman is also to be involved in the review.

In the Dáil last night, Martin said he had read the Garda report and it “raised additional issues” about the incident that require “further explanation and clarification”.

He added that Cowen wasn’t prepared to answer further questions publicly about the incident, which lead to Martin sacking Cowen, the brother of former Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Cowen last night said he was “both surprised and disappointed” with Martin’s decision to sack him.

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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