GARDAI have launched an investigation into allegations of theft after a parliamentary assistant to Fine Gael TD Derek Keating was caught taking and dumping free newspapers.
In an apparent attempt to bury bad news, Mr Keating's assistant, Tommy Morris, was last week caught on CCTV taking bundles of the 'Lucan Gazette' from a local shop.
In a statement yesterday, publisher Dublin Gazette Newspapers said it had obtained CCTV footage from last Thursday and Friday from a number of different stores.
The paper's distribution staff believe that a significant number of copies were taken from shops across Lucan.
"Local residents, advertisers and distributors of the paper are angry at the actions," a statement said.
The free newspaper contained an embarrassing front-page story about a row between Mr Keating and a local principal over a school extension.
The Dublin Mid-West TD was strongly criticised by principal Tomas O Dulaing after he claimed he had "initiated and delivered" the extension at the Griffeen Valley Educate Together school.
Gardai confirmed that an investigation was under way into the alleged theft of newspapers from a number of shops in the Lucan area over the past week.
However, legal sources told the Irish Independent that it was highly unlikely that Mr Morris had committed any crime because the newspapers were being given away for free.
Mr Keating had said he was "shocked" and "disappointed" after he had found out what his adviser had done.
"Tommy was upset when he saw the article and must have had a rush of blood to the head. We don't believe the article was fair at all to me," he said.
"This publication is a free sheet so there is no question of Tommy breaking the law," he added.
Gazette managing director Michael McGovern said: "The Gazette is a group of eight papers with a weekly print-run of over 40,000. We employ 22 people as well as freelance and agency workers.
"That someone would attempt to jeopardise their livelihoods in these times is particularly shocking."