Barry Cowen removed as Minister for Agriculture

Barry Cowen has been removed as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced in the Dáil this evening, Tuesday, July 14.

The Taoiseach said that President Michael D. Higgins had, on the Taoiseach’s advice, terminated Cowen’s appointment as minister.

The Taoiseach has temporarily taken over responsibility for the portfolio himself. He is set to propose a new minister tomorrow.

Micheál Martin said:

This is a very sad day for Barry, his family and for me. He has been a very committed public representative – very diligent and very dedicated.

“Over the course of the last 10 days he has been the subject of 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.”

This evening’s development comes on the back of a controversy involving Cowen in which it was alleged that he attempted to avoid or evade a Garda checkpoint in 2016.

Cowen has denied those allegations, saying over the weekend: “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.

Also Read: Minister Cowen: ‘I will be instructing my lawyers to take all necessary steps to vindicate my good name’

“On being informed of its existence [of an allegedly incorrect Garda record] I sought a copy of this incorrect record and am taking steps under the Data Protection Act to have it corrected,” Cowen had added.

Earlier last week, on Tuesday, July 7, he made a statement to the Dáil in which he addressed a driving ban he received in 2016 for drink driving – apologising and describing it as a “stupid mistake”.

He said: “My decision in September 2016 to drive home after consuming any alcohol was a stupid, stupid mistake. It never happened before September 18, 2016, and it has never happened since. It is a mistake for which I am profoundly sorry.”

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further details as they emerge…