Cowen claimed over €7k in travel allowance following drink-driving suspension

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Barry Cowen claimed €7,166.25 in travel allowance after being caught drink-driving in 2016, according to Oireachtas records.

Mr Cowen was found to be over the limit, received a €200 fine and was disqualified from driving for three months after being stopped at a garda checkpoint on his way home to Offaly after he attended the All-Ireland Football final in Dublin on September 18.

From September 29 to December 22, 2016, Mr Cowen claimed the full travel expenses available each month, amounting to €7,166.25.

Mr Cowen, now the Minister for Agriculture, has since apologised to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who only learned of the ban on Friday, and labelled the incident as a “serious lapse of judgment”.

From March 30 to December 22 in 2016, Mr Cowen claimed the full amount of travel and accommodation allowance (TAA) available, of €2,388.75 per month, amounting to €24,216.98, including an additional sum of €329.48 which was also claimed.

The amount Mr Cowen claimed did not change after the incident, and continued to claim the full amount available.

In 2017, Mr Cowen continued to claim the same amount of travel allowance every month.

TAA covers the costs associated with travel to and from Leinster House, overnights and, for TDs only, other travel expenses including constituency travel.

Today, an adult monthly ticket from Clara, Co Offaly where Mr Cowen lives, and Dublin Heuston costs €392.

The Laois-Offaly TD told RTÉ’s The Week In Politics that he had been driving on a provisional licence at the time, despite being a TD since 2011.

He said that he had since “regularised” this and obtained his full licence.

He admitted that he had driven without a fully licensed driver at times, but was not unaccompanied at the time of the offence.

Mr Cowen said that he had never had a full licence previously.

The Department of Agriculture and Mr Cowen have been approached for comment.



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