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Drink-drive ban minister Barry Cowen issues Dail apology for 'grave error'

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Statement: Barry Cowen

Statement: Barry Cowen

PA

Statement: Barry Cowen

Irish Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen has apologised in the Dail for a "grave error" of judgment and said his subsequent "humiliation" will hopefully serve to highlight the terrible dangers and consequences of drink-driving.

It emerged last week that he was barred from driving for three months in 2016 after he was found to be drink-driving.

He was on a provisional driving licence when he was stopped at a checkpoint and breathalysed on his way home to Co Offaly after an All-Ireland football final in Dublin. Mr Cowen was found to be over the limit and was issued with a fixed-charge penalty notice, a €200 fine, and was disqualified from driving for three months.

He said last night: "My decision in September 2016 to drive home after consuming any alcohol was a stupid, stupid mistake.

"It never happened before the 18th of September 2016 and it has never happened since.

"It is a mistake for which I am profoundly sorry."

He added: "Criticism that I have attracted for such a serious lapse of judgment is fully deserved. This grave error and my subsequent humiliation will hopefully serve to highlight the terrible dangers and consequences of drink-driving."

Earlier Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: "No politician is above the law and no politician should be above the law.

"In respect of Mr Cowen, you will note that punishment was meted out in respect of his transgression four years ago."

Rise TD Paul Murphy said it was "not acceptable" that Mr Cowen would give a Dail statement with no opportunity for questions.

Belfast Telegraph