‘The citizen’s rights of Barry Cowen have to be protected’ – Kelly

If the Labour Party had “known the information that we know now”, it possibly would not have voted against the motion put forward in the Dáil last week to force Barry Cowen to answer questions in the Dáil about his drink-driving incident. This is according to Labour Party leader Alan Kelly.

Cowen made a statement in the Dáil on Tuesday, July 7, about the incident in question which happened in 2016, but refused to answer any questions put towards him by TDs.

However, just a week later, on Tuesday, July 14, Cowen was sacked by Micheál Martin after failing to answer questions put to him surrounding allegations that he attempted to avoid a Garda checkpoint by doing a u-turn.

Fellow Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary was then appointed as the new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine yesterday, Wednesday, July 15.

Also Read: Who is the new Minister for Agriculture – Dara Calleary?

‘Issues with data protection’

Speaking on the Drivetime programme on RTE Radio 1, Kelly said that other opposition parties thought the situation was a “distraction at the time”, but that the Labour party felt it was not.

“We wanted him to make the statement and subsequent to that we would have dealt with it. Unfortunately, in this scenario, more information transpired and came out very quickly.

The Taoiseach was aware of some of these issues but not all of these issues very early on, but yet in a matter of hours he changed his opinion.

“Some real detailed information was not provided by the Taoiseach. He spoke about a Garda file or report but Barry Cowen speaks about a PULSE file.”

Kelly continued, saying: “There is a huge difference here. If you look for information from An Garda Síochána there is no issue there [to request information] but there is a process.

“The Subject Access Requests form actually says it takes between a month and three months for it to be processed.

How has this information been gathered and where is the Minister for Justice in all of this as there are clearly issues with data protection?

“I’ve no issue with the fact that the citizen rights of Barry Cowen has to be protected. I want the Taoiseach to clarify in relation to this, that the information was gathered in a proper process.”