Micheál Martin sacks Barry Cowen after further issues raised

The under-fire Minister.
By Juno McEnroe
Political Correspondent

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has fired Barry Cowen from government after further questions were raised about his drink driving and claims he tried to avoid Gardaí.

Mr Martin told the Dáil this evening that he had told the President he had "terminated" the minister's role in government.

In a statement, he said that Mr Cowen had been a “very committed” and “dedicated public representative”.

However, Mr Martin noted that the Offaly TD had been the subject of public criticism over the last 14 days over a road traffic incident that took place in 2016.

While noting Mr Cowen had apologised to the Dail last week, Mr Martin went on to say that more issues had emerged.

He said that Mr Cowen, while apologetic about the drink driving incident, had also been emphatic that one detail about allegations against him were "completely untrue".

This was that he tried to evade gardai during the incident.

He said he had spoken with him yesterday and this morning when Mr Cowen also shared the garda document about the incident with him.

While Mr Cowen disputes the garda record, Mr Martin told the Dáil that “additional issues” requiring clarification had been raised after he saw this report.

Mr Cowen was given space to consider this today, the Dáil heard.

“However, he has decided that he is not prepared to address this allegation publically and will not make any further statements or answers on this issue in this house," said Mr Martin.

Mr Martin this was now raising further doubts and government colleagues are having to address this.

“This is simply untenable,” said Mr Martin.

“It is my view that Minister Cowen had an obligation to come before the house. It is also my view that this issue is damaging to the ongoing work of government.”