Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen to seek nomination to run for European Parliament

Former minister for agriculture wants to contest election in Midlands North West

Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen is to seek his party’s nomination to run in the European Elections next year.

Mr Cowen, a former minister for agriculture, has told his local party organisation he would like to enter the contest for a European Parliament seat in the Midlands North West constituency.

Ireland is to get an extra MEP after the elections next June and a review of constituencies has recommended that it be allocated to Midlands North West with the boundaries redrawn to include counties Laois and Offaly.

Mr Cowen is a TD for the Laois-Offaly Dáil constituency and there has been much speculation in political circles that he was considering a bid to become a MEP.


Senators Lisa Chambers and Niall Blaney have also expressed interest in running for Fianna Fáil in the same constituency where the party currently has no European Parliament seat.

Fianna Fáil councillors in Offaly Declan Harvey and Eamon Dooley confirmed Mr Cowen announced his intentions to his local party organisation on Monday.

In a statement, Mr Cowen said: “With the addition of Laois-Offaly into the Midlands-North-West constituency, I feel now is the right time for me to try and deliver for my constituency at a European level, having been a councillor for 20 years and a TD for 12 years.

“I will be focused on the ongoing transition led by the EU towards sustainability across many sectors key to our success as an economy - food and farming, energy and enterprise, and making sure Irish views and interests are reflected in EU policies.

“Reinstating a seat or seats in this constituency will be important for the party and I believe I can deliver that having successfully contested many elections with a strong network and family history of pro-European public service.”

Mr Cowen was first elected to the Dáil in 2011 winning the seat previously held by his brother, the former taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Their father Ber Cowen was previously a TD in the area.

Barry Cowen was appointed as minister for agriculture after the current Coalition Government was formed in June 2020.

However, his tenure was short-lived with then Taoiseach Micheál Martin sacking Mr Cowen just over two weeks later for refusing to make a second Dáil statement about matters relating to a drink-driving ban he received in 2016.

He made an unreserved apology in the Dáil the previous week when the details emerged.

He was backed by his party leader, but then further reports surfaced suggesting the new minister might have tried to avoid a Garda checkpoint at the time.

Despite Mr Martin’s request, Barry insisted he would make no further comment as he was entitled to due process and he wanted to await the outcome of a Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) inquiry into this alleged incident.

In September 2022, a GSOC report concluded he did not attempt to perform a “U-turn” or seek to “evade or avoid” gardaí.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times