Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed sympathy towards Donald Trump for his views on the media.
Mr Varadkar was at a private luncheon in New York when he made his comments which included a scathing attack in the Irish media.
Reports suggest that Mr Varadkar said that political journalists in Ireland are more interested in gossip than real issues, and the media was ‘not interested in the truth but in the story’.
He was speaking in front of around 50 young IT, finance and media professionals.
He is said to have expressed sympathy for the US President’s view that that mainstream print journalists are worried about losing their audience share to new media sites and are therefore targeting tech companies.
Reports also state that he said that investigative journalism was not necessarily a good thing as journalists can get things wrong but not be held to account.
A spokesman for Mr Varadkar refused to deny the substance of the reported remarks – but said they were taken out of context.
He said: “The lunch, hosted by Ireland’s Consul General in New York, was a private event. Attendees included young Irish people based in New York working across a range of sectors, including media, finance and tech. They shared a wide ranging discussion. This conversation is now being quoted selectively and out of context.
“The Taoiseach believes that a free, fair and balanced press is a cornerstone of our democracy.”
It has led to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to call for an explanation from Mr Varadkar.
NUJ Irish general secretary Seamus Dooley said: “Respect for freedom of expression is a core value of the UN.
“Attributed comments are damaging to Ireland’s reputation as a modern democracy, given Trump’s views on press freedom.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling