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Pressure On Government To Clear Up Laois/Offaly Minister's Ban Details

The Agriculture Minister is denying allegations he did a U-turn from a checkpoint in 2016.

The Government remains under pressure to clear up details on Barry Cowen's drink driving ban.

The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that Mr Cowen was pursued by gardai after doing a U turn as he approached a checkpoint in 2016.

Barry Cowan has denied this and the matter has now been referred to the garda watchdog, GSOC.

Political Editor with the Irish Examiner, Daniel McConnell, says the story isn't going away:

Statement from Barry Cowen:

“The Sunday Times has today published an article referring to an incorrect Garda record dealing with the incident which occurred on 18 September 2016 despite the fact that my solicitors wrote to the newspaper in advance of publication. 

“I did not evade, or attempt to evade, a Garda. Such an act would constitute a serious criminal offence and I was not charged with such an offence.  On being informed of its existence I sought a copy of this incorrect record and am taking steps under the Data Protection Act to have it corrected.  

“This incorrect Garda record can only have come into the possession of the newspaper through a criminal act. It is a criminal offence for a member of An Garda Siochana to disclose any information obtained in the course of his or her duties. I am informed that An Garda Siochana has commenced a criminal investigation into the source of this leak.  

“It is obvious that the disclosure of this information at this time in flagrant breach of the criminal law and my rights under data protection law is a disgraceful attempt to cause me the maximum personal and political harm.

“By publishing this story the Sunday Times has consciously participated in, and facilitated, this and I will be instructing my lawyers to take all necessary steps to vindicate my good name and data protection rights."

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