Paddy Cosgrave accuses Tánaiste Micheál Martin of ‘abusing’ Dáil privilege to ‘attack a citizen’
• Yesterday 15:12
Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave has accused Tánaiste Micheál Martin of using Dáil privilege to “attack a citizen” and labelled him a “slippery politician”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme, Mr Cosgrave said the Fianna Fáil leader’s comments were “highly inappropriate” and that it was an attempt to distract from a report about Minister of State Niall Collins.
Mr Cosgrave accused the Tánaiste of trying to limit the reporting of online news website The Ditch.
“In this instance Micheál Martin was given free reign for quite a prolonged period of time to make attacks and insinuations on my reputation,” he said.
“I think that I have done more than almost any other businessperson in this country for Ukraine.
“I’m being accused of being part of some sort of Russian conspiracy to destabilise Ireland, which I think is slightly ridiculous.
“For years I’ve been funding what I see as good journalism in Ireland.”
During a Dáil session on April 27, Mr Martin accused The Ditch of running an “orchestrated” and “organised” campaign against the Government.
“There is a political organisation attacking the Government and wanting to undermine confidence in it,” he said.
“I see how all of this is being organised and set up by people who are very clear in their campaign against me and my party.
Mr Martin said he did not regard The Ditch as an independent media platform, a claim which has been disputed by the website’s editor.
The Ditch is funded by Mr Cosgrave’s Web Summit and other funders have not been disclosed.
Mr Cosgrave said he expects the Oireachtas Committee on Parliamentary Procedures and Oversight to determine whether Mr Martin should be censured or be asked to retract his comments or apologise.
When asked if he could see why Mr Martin might raise a question about The Ditch’s independence, Mr Cosgrave said: “I can see because he’s a slippery politician, I wouldn’t expect anything less of Micheál Martin.
“I think he’s overstepped the line, he’s usually a little bit more careful in what he says and of course he hasn’t repeated the specific allegations outside of the Dáil because I think the word is weaselly.
“I think the journalism that The Ditch has done is quite incredible.”
Mr Cosgrave refused to respond as to whether he invested in The Ditch because he shares similar political views with the editor.
“I put money behind the Ditch because I think it’s incredibly effective brand marketing for Web Summit,” he said.
“He shouldn’t hide behind the cover of Dáil privilege to do it and again he hasn’t repeated his specific allegations outside of the Dáil therefore it is an abuse of Dáil privilege in my view.”
He added that he was an “opponent of wrongdoing, law breaking, criminality and breach of ethics”.
A spokesperson for the Tánaiste said he stands by his comments made in the Dáil about The Ditch and Paddy Cosgrave.