Taoiseach attack on media while on trade mission is inappropriate

04 July 2018

Reacting to reports of the Taoiseach’s comments about the media while in New York, Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin said:

“The Taoiseach may believe that ‘a free, fair and balanced press is the cornerstone of our democracy,’ but his deeds and moral leadership carry more weight.

“No one doubts that Ireland’s links to the United States of America are hugely important, and that such trips to New York are strategically valuable to Ireland’s interests.

“But whatever about criticising the media when at home on the campaign trail, for Ireland’s Head of Government to attack the Irish media when on a diplomatic and strategic trade mission is wholly inappropriate.

“Whether it is spending millions on the Government’s now-abandoned spin unit, testing campaign slogans like ‘Let Leo Lead On’ or now denigrating Irish journalists who had faithfully chronicled his bid for Ireland to gain a UN Security Council seat, Leo Varadkar seems more concerned to control the story than support a free press.

“The Taoiseach will no doubt claim that the media is unfairly representing his remarks. But he will be given ample airtime to explain what he meant and in what context. And the people of Ireland are entitled to hear that and to make up their own minds. That’s the function of a free press in Ireland’s democracy.”

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