Barry Cowen suggests future Cabinet return, says FF has ‘come through bigger events’

TD who was sacked as minister for agriculture says he has not spoken with Martin since Tuesday

Former minister for agriculture Barry Cowen: ‘I think there is the potential for me to see rectification of this issue’. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Former minister for agriculture Barry Cowen: ‘I think there is the potential for me to see rectification of this issue’. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fail’s Barry Cowen has said his party has “come through bigger events” than his sacking as minister for agriculture this week and suggested he may return to the Cabinet in future.

The Laois-Offaly TD said he has not spoken with Taoiseach Micheál Martin since he was dismissed on Tuesday, after refusing to make a further statement in the Dáil on the drink-driving ban he received in 2016.

Speaking to his local Midlands 103 radio station, Mr Cowen suggested making such a statement could “undermine” or “prejudice” his legal efforts to seek “rectification of this issue”.

“Many people believe the punishment I got initially wasn’t enough, I deserved more retribution, and that may well be the case,” he said.

“There was a difference of opinion between myself and the Taoiseach as to how these issues would evolve over the coming weeks.

“I think there is the potential for me to see rectification of this issue and there are processes I have engaged in that I can’t comment on a whole lot more, only to say there are processes, there is legislation in place that offers citizens opportunities to pursue such rectification.”

Mr Cowen said he had an “aspiration to move in that direction” but the Taoiseach “felt otherwise and that’s where we differed and ultimately we couldn’t stay on the same team if that was the case.”

The TD reiterated his assertion that the party was “definitely bigger than Micheál Martin” and suggested he could return to a ministerial portfolio at some stage.

“I had a good job before I became a minister, I still have a good job after being a minister, and, who knows, I might be (a minister) again,” he said.

Asked if he had spoken to Mr Martin since his sacking, he said: “No I haven’t talked to him, but he’s the Taoiseach of the country, it’s his prerogative and you have to abide by the rules and the institutions of the State.”

Mr Cowen added: “There will be opportunities in the future I’m sure.”

The former minister, who spent just 17 days in the post, admitted a “stupid mistake” and “lapse of judgment” in relation to the drink-driving offence, for which he served a three-month driving ban, but insisted he was “penalised properly and effectively” at the time.

His “humiliation and embarrassment” has been added to in recent weeks “in the manner in which I have to address it”, he said.

Mr Cowen said he believes he will be justified in pursuing issues over his personal data being compromised and that ultimately it will “paint me in a different light”.

“I’m not a victim. It is the consequences of an unfortunate mistake, that I have paid a dear price for,” he said.

“There are some outstanding issues, where I have processes by which I have to seek rectification, and I will do that.

“But ultimately it is a hard price to pay for such an event. I’ve apologised on many occasions and I will do so again to my constituents and the general public for that lapse of judgment and lack of judgment.”