McConalogue has ‘no idea’ who leaked Zappone appointment

Minister says practice of leaking from politicians is ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Charlie McConalogue: ‘All I can tell you is that it certainly was not me’. Photograph: Alan Betson

Charlie McConalogue: ‘All I can tell you is that it certainly was not me’. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said he has “no idea” which Cabinet minister leaked the bothched appointment of Katherine Zappone as UN special envoy.

“I have no idea who it was but it should not be happening,” he said.

“It is a practice that is absolutely unacceptable, that is forbidden in terms of the code of practice as to how ministers engage at Cabinet level. It is certainly not something I do.”

Leaking from politicians generally was “becoming more prevalent in recent years”, he said.

Pressed if he could categorically rule out the leak coming from Fianna Fail ministers, he said: “No one can say where it came from. That is the nature of leaks.”

“As the Taoiseach has said, and as individual Fianna Fail ministers have always said, we take a very serious view in terms of our responsibility to Cabinet,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne.

“Every minister needs to do that, and I believe does do that, but in this instance it didn’t happen.

“I don’t think anyone knows where it came from but everybody has to be very clear that it is not acceptable.

“All I can tell you is that it certainly was not me. I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else.”

Asked if the Taoiseach should order an investigation into the leak, Mr McConalogue said: “Leaks are always very difficult to get to the bottom of. That is something I have no doubt the Taoiseach will consider and has considered and I will certainly support him in any decision he takes to that.”

Mr McConalogue’s comments come after Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly admitted there is a problem with the amount of leaks coming from the Cabinet.

Mr Donnelly said leaking was not “good practice and it is making the job of government more difficult. I would really like it stopped.”

He said he had never leaked and revealed that Taoiseach Micheál Martin had told Cabinet colleagues to stop the practice.

Mr Donnelly was reacting to the allegation that his cabinet colleague and constituency rival Simon Harris had leaked details of the Katherine Zappone appointment to the media while a cabinet meeting was still going on.

Mr Donnelly told RTÉ’s Prime Time programme that Mr Harris had “flatly refuted” the allegation, which was first made under Dáil privilege by Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.