'He shouldn't have trusted Micheál Martin' - Offaly locals react to Cowen's sacking

People in Barry Cowen's constituency of Offaly have been reacting to his removal as agriculture m...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.14 15 Jul 2020

Share this article

'He shouldn't have trusted Mic...

'He shouldn't have trusted Micheál Martin' - Offaly locals react to Cowen's sacking

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.14 15 Jul 2020

Share this article

People in Barry Cowen's constituency of Offaly have been reacting to his removal as agriculture minister on Tuesday.

Ger Scully is editor of the Tullamore Tribune.

He told Newstalk's Barry Whyte for The Hard Shoulder: "People are definitely shocked.


"The Cowen family it's a dynasty here, it's stretching back three generations to virtually the foundation of the State and the foundation of Fianna Fáil.

"People were very proud, I think, that they were going to have a voice in the midlands and Offaly and Laois-Offally and Tullamore was going to have a voice at the Cabinet table".

"The town has felt down in the last number of years, like a lot of rural towns.

"Then there was the Bord na Mona situation with basically turf harvesting on a commercial basis being stopped.

"So there was a feeling that Barry would make the case for Offaly and for the wider midlands at the Cabinet table.

"And no-one saw this coming, let's say, I think it was this day two weeks or so - so it's been a mad period".

He said there is a "divergence of opinion" of Fianna Fáil members.

"A lot of people will be very annoyed, would feel that Barry was let down and the whole lot.

"But they'll stick with their guns with the party".

"But then there's a lot of, I suppose, anti-Micheál Martin feeling down here - and I would have heard that before this incident happened.

"And from talking to people on the street this morning, and indeed in the last few weeks, you often get the feeling 'well, Barry Cowen shouldn't have trusted Micheál Martin anyway - he shafted his brother Brian' and that that was going to be repeated".

One man said: "It is unfortunate what happened, it is a long time ago - and I suppose people do make mistakes all the time.

"I'm sure there's an awful lot more skeletons in the closet when it comes to politicians in Dáil Éireann, so I think this might be a minor altercation.

"If you really went behind the scenes of every politician, I think there'd be an awful lot worse things coming out in the media than what Barry's done".

A woman said: "What was he going around with a provisional licence for 49 years - or whatever he was - and no 'L' plates or anything like that?

"If we'd done that, we'd be brought down and put up and we'd be spread out like all over the place.

"I mean what's the difference with him?

"At the end of the day he's only a public servant - I know he's getting well paid for it, but that's the way I look at it.

"If I was doing his job, I wouldn't have been doing what he was doing".

Asked if she felt sorry for him, she said: "Not really no - did he feel sorry for us when he put us over the cliff 10 years ago?

"I'm still waiting for my €30 back that I got, just like that deducted, and they got on with their happy life - them in the banks.

"If you go back 10 years, they gave themselves a rise and gave us a block of cheese - and that's Fianna Fáil".

Another man said: "Lots of people drive around with provisional licences before they get full licences and being a bit over the limit? I don't regard that as terrible.

"Being banned for that, when in fact one time you could drink a gallon of drink and drive - and all of a sudden you can drink nothing".

"It's breaking the law, but it all seems a bit harsh".

Liam McGuinness is a local Fianna Fáil member, who owns a taxi rank.

He said: "He should never have been a minister for agriculture, he should never have been on government - not with the crowd he's with.

"Anyone that's in the Fianna Fáil party that I know - good, staunch Fianna Fáil supporters - voted not to go into power.

"Now he got a kick in the hole because Micheál Martin sacked him: he pushed his brother first, Brian, he started the push, the big heave against Brian to get him out of power".

"Micheál Martin is after wiping out the Fianna Fáil party for his own means to become Taoiseach."

"The Fianna Fáil party is gone, it's gone, it's history".

Mr Cowen was sacked by Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday over his drink-driving ban.

Mr Martin told the Dáil: "Over the course of the last 10 days he has the subject of significant criticism and condemnation for a road traffic offence that took place in 2016.

"He has been completely clear and unambiguous regarding his drink-driving offence - he gave a personal statement to this House on July 7th, in which he talked about the stupidity of his actions, he accepted what he did was absolutely wrong and he apologised to all members.

"I accepted that his remorse was genuine and I accepted his apology.

"When he was first confronted with the allegations, Minister Cowen was immediately clear and emphatic about this drink-driving offence and understood the need to acknowledge this.

"However he was equally clear and emphatic that one detail of the allegation he was being presented with was completely untrue - namely that he sought to evade Gardaí at the time.

"We've had extensive discussions on this point last evening and again this morning, when he shared with me for the first time the actual Garda record under dispute.

"Following these discussions and having seen the Garda report this morning, it was my view that it raised additional issues requiring further explanation and clarification."

"He has decided that he's not prepared to address this allegation publicly, and will not make any further statement or answer any questions on this issue in this House.

"This decision has created a situation where legitimate doubts and additional questions are being raised and Government colleagues are expected to address these.

"This is simply untenable".

Mayo TD Dara Calleary has been appointed as the new Agriculture Minister.

Mr Calleary is the deputy leader of Fianna Fáil, and had initially been appointed as Government Chief Whip.

At the time, Mr Calleary said he was "disappointed" he was not given a senior ministry.

As part of a small re-shuffle Jack Chambers will take over as Chief Whip, while Seán Fleming will become a junior minister at the Department of Finance.

Main image: Barry Cowen is pictured in 2018 as Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform. Picture by: Leah Farrell /

Share this article

Read more about

Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen Ger Scully Liam McGuinness Micheál Martin Offaly

Most Popular