Press secretary acted on own initiative - Cowen

 

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen said the Government press secretary, Eoin Ó Neachtain, acted on his own initiative in telephoning RTÉ about its news coverage of the nude portrait of him.

Mr Cowen said: “As for the press secretary, he was not acting on my instruction, or that of any Minister, and nor did he seek an apology as RTÉ itself decided to apologise.”

When Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny raised the matter during questions about the Government Information Service, he was ruled out of order by Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue.

Mr Kenny insisted he was “asking a legitimate question about an officer who is appointed as part of the Government Information Service, and I want to know whether the Government press secretary contacted the national broadcaster to state that what it had to done to the Taoiseach was wrong and that it should apologise”.

Mr O’Donoghue said it was up to Mr Cowen if he wanted to reply, but the question was not in order.

Padraic McCormack (FG, Galway West) said: “All the deputy seeks are the bare facts.”

Mr O’Donoghue replied: “Then I strongly suggest that he tables the bare question.”

Mr Cowen remarked: “Well done, Deputy McCormack . . . That was one of his better efforts.”

Pressed further by Mr Kenny, the Taoiseach said there was “a fair bit of contact” between those working in the Government press area and RTÉ, just as there was between Fine Gael press officers and the national broadcaster.