Ceann Comhairle says his office did not fund Tricolour supplement

Mary Lou McDonald queries ‘extraordinary’ ‘Irish Independent’ inset on the flag

A newspaper supplement about the history of the  Tricolour received ‘absolutely no funding’ from the office of Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Mr Ó Fearghaíl has said. File photograph: Ed Pritchard/Photographer’s Choice/Getty

A newspaper supplement about the history of the Tricolour received ‘absolutely no funding’ from the office of Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Mr Ó Fearghaíl has said. File photograph: Ed Pritchard/Photographer’s Choice/Getty

 

A newspaper supplement about the history of the Irish Tricolour received “absolutely no funding” from the office of Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Mr Ó Fearghaíl has said.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said he had not seen the supplement to mark the 170th anniversary of the introduction of the Tricolour, but that there was “absolutely no financing [for it] by my office”.

He was responding after Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald raised the supplement in the Dáil on Wednesday, noting that it was produced in association with the Ceann Comhairle’s office.

Ms McDonald asked him to confirm in writing that his office did not fund the supplement, and Mr Ó Fearghaíl confirmed that he would “most definitely” do so.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar then intervened and said that seeking written confirmation was an “unnecessary demand”.

Ms McDonald said she was not being disrespectful, adding that the request was good process and the Taoiseach “should try it”.

She said the supplement featured 12 photographs of Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly.

“The fact that there are so many pictures of Senator Mark Daly in a single publication is an astonishing achievement of political communication and propaganda.”

The Sinn Féin leader then said to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that “in that sense Taoiseach, you’re not on your own. It seems that these strategies are widely deployed and are much beloved of Fianna Fáil.”

She said the supplement, which appeared with the Irish Independent, was an “extraordinary publication”. It was “very lengthy and, in part, informative”.

She said that such media approaches were “inherently problematic”.

She said that, on the face of it, the supplement was about the national flag and its designer, Thomas Meagher, which was a good thing.

“However, it becomes difficult when it can be interpreted as politically partisan.”

Public monies

Ms McDonald said she did not wish to draw the Ceann Comhairle into controversy, but “I would like to know if public monies have been invested in the production of this supplement”.

She also said that she was not accusing him of being “politically partisan”.

The Ceann Comhairle featured in the supplement, she said. “Your visage is in this publication also.”

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said he could assure her that “there was no money from my office invested in it”.