Top: Micheál Martin and Barry Cowen at Leinster House in 2016; The Taoiseach announces Mr Cowen’s removal this evening
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen tweeted the following, after it emerged that his party leader Taoiseach Micheál Martin had sacked him from his role as the Minister for Agriculture:
“The Taoiseach informed me this evening by phone that he was removing me from office as Minister for Agriculture. I am both surprised and disappointed with this decision.
“Previously I furnished the Taoiseach with all the facts about my drink driving conviction and the story that the Sunday Times proposed to publish about my alleged evasion of a Garda check point. In doing so I provided him with confidential details about my interaction with An Garda Siochana.
“I have made my position on these matters known publicly and I have acknowledged my wrong doing for something that occurred 4 years ago.
“I have sought an explanation – not as a government minister but as a citizen – as to how details relating to the incident were leaked to the media. The authorities have agreed to investigate the matter.
“One point warrants emphasis: at no time did I attempt to evade the Gardaí. Had I done so, the charges brought against me would, quite correctly, have been of a different tenor to those with which I was charged.
“I am responsible for the offence with which I was convicted 4 years ago not for an inaccurate Garda entry on Pulse about that event. Ten days ago and this afternoon the Taoiseach believed my failure of 2016 didn’t warrant my removal from office but he now appears to have changed his mind based on a Pulse report I gave him this morning.
“It is important to re-emphasise that report was leaked in contravention of the protections that I and every other citizen is entitled to expect in respect of their interaction with the Gardaí.
“Unfortunately the decision of the Taoiseach to remove me from office, when he supported me this afternoon in the Dail, has undermined and potentially prejudiced my entitlement to fair process.”
I am told by a source in Merrion Street (but now at home) that Anne Rabbitte TD is expected to take on the role of government chief whip and that Dara Calleary TD will be asked to serve as Minister for Agriculture and the Marine.#rtept #BarryCowen
— Hugo (@AodhBC) July 14, 2020
— Ken Mc Fadden (@unspeakable28) July 14, 2020
Barry Cowen has been sacked as Agriculture Minister. Statement due in a few minutes @rtenews
— Mícheál Lehane (@MichealLehane) July 14, 2020
Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil that Agriculture Minister and Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has been sacked.
Mr Martin told the Dáil:
“This is a very sad day for Barry, for his family and for me. He has been a very committed representative, very diligent and very dedicated. Over the course of the last 10 days he’s been the subject of very significant criticism and condemnation for a road traffic offence that took place in 2016. He has been completely clear and unambiguous regarding his drink-driving offence. He gave a personal statement to this House on July 7 in which he talked about the stupidity of his actions. He accepted what he did was absolutely wrong and he apologised to all members.”
Barry Cowen’s sacking is extraordinary given Micheál Martin knew about the alleged attempt to evade the Garda check point last week – and knew Cowen had not addressed the issue in his apology to the Dail.
Martin defended Cowen in the Dail earlier today. What changed?
— Colette Browne (@colettebrowne) July 14, 2020
Previously: Who Spilled? [Updated]