Cowen garda record dispute: Martin made aware of claims
:: Minister demands that gardaí change drink-driving ban record
Taoiseach Micheál Martin was told 10 days ago about the details which have led a Cabinet minister to now deny that he tried to “evade” a garda when he was caught drink-driving.
Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen says the official Garda record of his drink-driving offence in 2016 is “incorrect”.
In a serious development for the Government, the minister is demanding gardaí change the record of his drink-driving ban. And the Garda watchdog is now investigating the leaking of information on Mr Cowen’s drink-driving disqualification.
Cowen says he ‘did not evade a garda’ in Sept 2016
“I did not evade, or attempt to evade, a Garda. Such an act would constitute a serious criminal offence and I was not charged with such an offence.”
In 2016, Mr Cowen served a three-month disqualification from driving.
He was stopped at a checkpoint and breathalysed on his way home to Co Offaly from Dublin after the All-Ireland football final four years ago.
He was found to be over the limit and issued with a fixed charge penalty notice, €200 fine and disqualified from driving for three months.
Mr Cowen addressed the controversy in the Dáil this week when he said he was profoundly sorry for the offence, which he said was a stupid mistake.
In the statement issued today, the Offaly TD said he sought a copy of the Garda incorrect record and is taking steps under the Data Protection Act to have it corrected.
Mr Cowen also said that the gardaí have commenced a criminal investigation into the source of the leak.
“This incorrect Garda record can only have come into the possession of the newspaper through a criminal act. It is a criminal offence for a member of An Garda Síochána to disclose any information obtained in the course of his or her duties.”
The minister says the disclosure of this information at this time is a breach of the criminal law and his rights under data protection law and he says it is an attempt to cause him the maximum personal and political harm.
“By publishing this story the Sunday Times has consciously participated in, and facilitated, this and I will be instructing my lawyers to take all necessary steps to vindicate my good name and data protection rights.”
The Garda Commissioner has decided to refer the matter to GSOC.
A formal letter will be sent tomorrow.