In an embarrassing development, it has emerged that Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen has failed to pay a debt relating to the purchase of equipment for his former auctioneering business.
The Herald has learned that the Fianna Fáil TD will be pursued personally for the sum of money – which is owed to the Dublin based printing company M J Flood Ireland Limited.
Details of the court judgement against Mr Cowen were published in this month's edition of Experian Gazette. In a statement to the Herald last night, Mr Cowen said he accepts the court judgement made against him.
"This relates to a historical business matter I was involved in from before I was elected as a TD.
"I accept the court judgement, will be discharging it in full and the business is no longer in operation," he said.
It's understood that the debt arises from the purchase of printing equipment which was installed in the Tullamore Office of Mr Cowen's former auctioneering business, which closed last year.
Mr Cowen took up a job with the Irish Greyhound Board in 2010 and was previously with Offaly County Council.
"I'm an auctioneer and valuer so obviously I had to consider what other options are out there by virtue of that sector and its performance in the last number of years," he said at the time.
He closed the auctioneering firm following the slowdown in the market.
Mr Cowen successfully defended his brother's seat in the 2011 General Election.
Because Mr Cowen operated as a sole trader, he is personally liable for the debt.
A source close to Mr Cowen, who is Fianna Fail's Environment spokesperson, last night said his business "suffered badly" during the crash.
"Barry is embarrassed about all this and he will endeavour to deal with it appropriately," the source added. The Herald contacted M J Flood Limited for comment but received no response.
The case was listed as having been settled in the Circuit Court on October 4. The judgement was for a sum of €8,630 plus costs of €679.
Mr Cowen is the latest TD to be hauled in front of the courts over unpaid debts.
It emerged last year that a construction company owned by Mick Wallace underpaid €1.4m in VAT.
Junior Minister John Perry also found his business woes in the media spotlight.
The Fine Gael TD reached agreement with Danske Bank in September over an unpaid debt of €2.4m.