Taoiseach still has “questions to answer” over Cowen sacking

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has said Taoiseach Micheál Martin still has a whole series of questions to answer over the sacking of Barry Cowen as Minister for Agriculture and The Marine.

Speaking to the Offaly Independent last week during a visit to the Midlands, the Sinn Féin leader said the circumstances under which the Taoiseach made his decision were “very, very perplexing”.

“No one called for Barry Cowen's head. No one called for him to be sacked,” she pointed out.

She said after the story first came to light, Sinn Féin accepted Barry Cowen's apology in the Dail.

“I hadn't raised the issue as the leader of the Opposition at all because I accepted the man's remorse and his apology.”

“Initially when this story came to light, Barry Cowen acknowledged that he was wrong and he apologised and I have absolutely no doubt that that apology was sincere. No doubt whatsoever.

“We took the view – that if you break the law, if you commit an offence, you have to face the penalty. But once that matter is addressed and addressed fully, well then that's that. You also have to let people move on. We all mistakes and you have to let people move on.”

Following the publication of an article in Sunday Times the following weekend, Cowen said he “did not evade, or attempt to evade, a Garda” during the incident which resulted in him receiving a ban for driving over the legal alcohol limit.

Deputy McDonald said after this development, she raised what she said in the Dáil was “an incomplete statement” by Minister Cowen to the Dáil previously.

She said she sought that Barry Cowen come before the Dáil to answer questions.

“He was a Minister in Government, it was a reasonable ask – Micheál Martin absolutely ruled that out, said absolutely no way, voted against it, left the chamber and then came back saying I have sacked this guy because he won't come in and answer questions. So all of us were saying that is very, very perplexing.

“I still don't have any sense of what happened in the intervening hours between him (the Taoiseach) being questioned by me at Leaders Questions as to what Micheál Martin knew, when he knew it, how this happened, what he was going to do about it. Literally within a couple of short hours, he was back into the Dail, took all of us by surprise, announcing that he had sacked Barry Cowen.”

She said the Taoiseach's handling of the matter, had now "left a whole series of questions".

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