16 Aug 2022

Cowen says Frances Fitzgerald 'stood idly by' as Maurice McCabe was 'undermined'

He clarifies the Fianna Fáil position

Cowen says Frances Fitzgerald 'stood idly by' as Maurice McCabe was 'undermined'

Cowen says Frances Fitzgerald 'stood idly by' as Maurice McCabe was 'undermined'

Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen has clarified his personal and party opinion on the controversy surrounding Tánaiste and former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald this afternoon.

Fitzgerald is the subject of two no-confidence motions, one from Fianna Fáil, and the other from Sinn Féin over her handling of information relating to a suspected attempt by high-ranking gardaí to discredit Garda whistleblower, Sgt. Maurice McCabe.

An email leaked recently suggests Minister Fitzgerald was aware of this Garda legal strategy for the O'Higgins Inquiry as far back as May 2015, a year before she officially states becoming aware of such material. 

She has claimed this week to have forgotten the 2015 email. 

Today, Barry Cowen has stated, "the Tánaiste and Government stood idly by as the character and integrity of an innocent man was undermined."

"That doesn’t sit easily with me," he added. "I don’t think the Irish people would thank the likes of me for not holding that behaviour to account."

He went on to contend that "Leo Varadkar’s judgement, experience and leadership is now on trial between now and Tuesday, when our motion will be considered and voted on by the Dail."

"It is within his gift to avoid an election. He has a choice, whether to serve himself or common decency," Cowen concluded. 

Fianna Fáil motion will go before the Dáil prior to the one tabled by Sinn Féin. Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has stressed that he can no longer express confidence in Frances Fitzgerald.

Leo Varadkar and his party colleagues have explicitly backed their Minister, with all indications suggesting a collapse of the government in the coming days.

The two likely scenarios are the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald or the imminent dismantling of the current government and a general election, possibly before Christmas. 

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