The Minister with responsibility for disabilities has apologised to families and victims who continue to suffer the consequences of drink-driving.

In a statement this evening, Finian McGrath said it was never his intention to cause pain and he "unreservedly apologises" to families, victims and gardaí.

Mr McGrath told the Sunday Independent that gardaí had become politicised and were carrying out unnecessary breathalyser tests because they opposed new drink-driving laws.

He said that families and victims suffering the aftermath of drink-driving have always been a priority for him.

"I voted for and fully support the legislation which automatically disqualifies any motorist found to have consumed alcohol," he said.

Minister McGrath also pointed out that he supported the Government minister who brought the "vital legislation" forward.

That Government minister is Minister McGrath's Independent Alliance colleague, Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

Earlier, Fianna Fáil's justice spokesperson said Mr McGrath's statements were "very foolish" and "over the top".

Jim O'Callaghan said Mr McGrath was "looking for publicity" and trying to explain the "extraordinary unpopularity" of the other Independence Alliance ministers, such as Minister Ross.

Mr O'Callaghan acknowledged that Mr McGrath has withdrawn his remarks, but called for him to go further and apologise to gardaí.

A spokesperson for PARC (Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Care) said that Mr McGrath's comments were wrong and dangerous.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Aisling Reid said that the minister should resign.

"It was disgraceful what he said. It was shocking what he said and it was wrong. I think retracting his statement just isn't good enough I think and he needs to resign from his position. It's dangerous what he said. These new drink-driving laws were implemented for a reason," she added.

Speaking on the same programme, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said he has full confidence in Mr McGrath who he described as "a very good colleague and committed person"..

Mr Bruton said anyone can make a mistake, but Mr McGrath has been man enough to admit he made a mistake and withdraw it.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said Mr McGrath recognised that he probably should not have made the remarks and has withdrawn them.