Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen at Dublin Castle.
Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen will address the Dáil today over his drink-driving suspension, with questions still surrounding the three-month ban.
The minister is already facing calls to step down from his role just days into the job after it emerged he had been caught over the limit while driving in 2016.
The Laois-Offaly TD was stopped at a checkpoint and breathalysed on his way home after an All-Ireland football final in Dublin on September 18. He received a €200 fine and was disqualified from driving for three months.
Mr Cowen has made arrangements to clarify outstanding issues in the Dáil at around 8.40pm after sustained criticism of his behaviour did not abate over the weekend.
Further questions have been posed over why Mr Cowen was on a provisional licence at the time despite having been a public representative since 1991.
Mr Cowen also said he had driven without a fully licenced driver with him at times but was not unaccompanied at the time of the offence.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin found out about the incident last week, amid reports that other members of Fianna Fáil had known about the driving ban.
Mr Martin said Mr Cowen has expressed his regret at what has happened and said his remorse is genuine.
“He has articulated his profound regret, sorrow, and shame at what transpired four years ago,” said Mr Martin.
“It can happen. Historically, people have availed of the temporary licence regime in Ireland, that was a tendency in Ireland. Not everyone did it, I’m not excusing it, but I believe his remorse is genuine and he will be making a statement to the Dáil in relation to it and he has asked the Ceann Comhairle to facilitate that.”
The Irish Road Victims Association has called for the minister’s resignation.
Founder Donna Price said Mr Cowen should step aside from his role.
“I think his position is untenable,” she said.
“Much as I don’t like to kick someone when they are down and when they have made an apology, really it goes further than that and I think it shows a complete disregard for other users.
“He has broken the law not just by drink driving but also by driving while unaccompanied so that shows a complete disregard for the safety of other road users.
“Those laws are there to protect all of us and so it is simply inexcusable.
“He could have killed or seriously injured somebody and we don’t appreciate that our public representatives would take such a chance.”
This sad Story, wont go away, Why was Cowen so Stupid, or maybe Arrogant? Fred,