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'This is not on' - Mary Lou calls for Naughten to either stand aside - or be sacked

The Sinn Féin president has no truck with Minister for Communications Denis Naughten’s speech to the Dáil yesterday.

FINE GAELS LOCAL ELECTIONS CAMPAIGNS 2004 THE MEDIA CAMERMEN Mary Lou McDonald and Denis Naughten, pictured in May 2004 Source: Gareth Chaney/Rollingnews.ie

PRESIDENT OF SINN Féin Mary Lou McDonald has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to sack Communications Minister Denis Naughten in the wake of a controversy emerging concerning the minister and the ongoing saga at Independent News and Media.

On his feet for over an hour in the Dáil yesterday, the minister faced a grilling about the contact he had with a PR agency over the proposed takeover of Celtic Media by INM.

Naughten insisted at length that, in allegedly telling PR executive Eoghan Ó Neachtain that the proposed takeover would be referred to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), he was expressing a personal opinion, a notion McDonald gave short shrift this morning.

“I think he (Naughten) needs to go,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. “It’s the Taoiseach’s job to deal with that.”

The Taoiseach should ask him to stand aside, and then yes, if he is not willing to do that I believe he’ll have no option but to sack him.

She said that, far from making things clear, Naughten’s speech had merely served to “muddy the waters”, and described his casting of the matter as being one of personal opinion as “a farce”.

“In any event, we know the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement saw it as sensitive information, and the lobbyist and PR firm acting on behalf of Independent News and Media equally regarded it as sensitive,” she said.

This is not on. It’s old politics screaming at you, it shows inappropriate, unhealthy and unacceptably cosy relations between government ministers and very, very wealthy interests.
The fact is this lobbyist didn’t want a personal view, he wanted the view of a minister, in his regulatory and statutory capacity.

McDonald said, however, that, while her party hadn’t entirely ruled out tabling a motion of no confidence in Naughten, it is “the Taoiseach’s job” to handle the problem. She also said that, in her opinion, Naughten is “a person of substance”.

“All options are on the table,” she said.

I want him (Varadkar) to act, be decisive, take action.

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Speaking in the Seanad today, Naughten said he was not responsible for how Ó Neachtain took the comments.

“I sincerely regret expressing my view on this at that time. Anyone who knows me knows I am an accessible minister.

“But I am absolutely clear that I said I would abide by the recommendations of my officials and the files show that is exactly what I did.”

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