5 July 2007 Edition

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Taoiseach challenged on meeting with Tony O'Reilly

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has challenged the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on his pre-election meeting with Independent News and Media mogul Tony O’Reilly. Ahern did not deny that the secret meeting had taken place and said that he meets members of the media from time to time but that “An Phoblacht has not sought a meeting”!
During the General Election campaign Finance Minister Brian Cowen admitted when questioned at a press conference that senior members of Fianna Fáil had met Tony O’Reilly, proprietor of the Independent group, including the Sunday Independent, the Irish Independent and the Sunday World. It is understood that both Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen met with O’Reilly.
Ó Caoláin asked:
“Can the Taoiseach tell us if any members of the Government attended the pre-election meeting with Mr. O’Reilly? Who attended such a meeting, which the Tánaiste has acknowledged took place? Did the Taoiseach attend such a meeting in the lead up to the General Election, and what was its purpose? Nobody here could disagree that the newspapers in the Independent Group clearly swung in behind the Government in the latter days of the campaign. Was that a by-product of any such engagement?”
The Taoiseach replied that the Independent group was not represented at a meeting of the social partners last week but this was not, of course, the meeting Ó Caoláin was asking about. Ahern continued:
“From time to time I meet members of the media, except An Phoblacht. An Phoblacht has not sought a meeting.”

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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