I have been reluctant to raise the matter of the Minister, Deputy Cowen, on Leaders' Questions before today. I absolutely accept that everybody makes mistakes, that people learn from those mistakes and that they move on. We wanted to give the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine every opportunity to address all of the matters concerned, to draw a line under them and to move on at a time of huge health and economic challenges, not least for the farming community. Last week, the Minister had the opportunity to do just that by putting all of the facts on the record of the Dáil in relation to his drink-driving incident but, unfortunately, he has failed to do that.
We now have an unprecedented situation where a Minister is disputing the Garda PULSE record of a drink-driving offence he was involved in and looking to have that record changed. Last week in his personal statement, the Minister stated he was "conscious that a constant drip feed of new information can be damaging and destabilising". He said it was for that reason he had conducted a full examination of all records that he could obtain. Yet here we are a week later and the drip feed of new information continues.
On 4 July, according to The Sunday Times, contact was made with the Minister regarding the Garda record from 18 September 2016, stating that he sought to evade a Garda checkpoint on the evening of the drink-driving offence. The Irish Times today quotes sources saying the Taoiseach was made aware of these records at the time of this media query, that is, the weekend before last. Can the Taoiseach confirm when he was made aware of the Garda record of the Minister's attempt to evade a Garda checkpoint? Was he aware of this before the Minister made his statement to the Dáil? Did the Minister discuss with the Taoiseach or seek advice from the Taoiseach regarding his decision to seek to amend the record relating to his 2016 drink-driving conviction? Does the Taoiseach accept that the Minister's statement to the Dáil was incomplete, as it made no mention of this Garda record? When did the Taoiseach inform his coalition partners about all of this? Has he challenged the Minister on his incomplete statement? Does he accept that a Minister challenging the accuracy or, indeed, the truthfulness of a Garda PULSE record is a very serious matter?