Saturday 21 October 2017

You knackers! We'll put manners on you - Phil Hogan's threat to our journalists

Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan
Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

Phil Hogan, the Environment Minister, has branded the Sunday Independent and another newspaper as "knackers" and threatened to "put manners" on us for publishing pictures of himself and his now former press secretary in Doha on Budget day.

Phil Hogan, the Environment Minister, has branded the Sunday Independent and another newspaper as "knackers" and threatened to "put manners" on us for publishing pictures of himself and his now former press secretary in Doha on Budget day.

Last Thursday, Mr Hogan accused this newspaper of engaging in a "disgraceful game" and threatened: "We will put manners on you." Mr Hogan was reacting to coverage of himself in recent months.

On the day of the Budget, at which the property tax was announced and child benefit and respite care were cut, the Irish Daily Mail published pictures of Mr Hogan in Doha in the company of his then press secretary.

The following Sunday, the Sunday Independent ran the headline "Big Phil's jaunt cost as much as cuts to respite care for 100 families for year", accompanied by one picture.

Last week, he said he would refuse to deal with this paper, branding us "knackers" for publishing the picture. "You will get nothing from me. Knackers, for what you did," he said.

I said I was personally sorry for what happened to his press secretary, who has since left her post.

"Well, it's a f***ing disgraceful game, you'll get no one going into politics, or being a press officer, if you guys keep going," he said.

I said that it wasn't my story to which Mr Hogan responded: "I know, but you guys better get some manners or we'll put manners on you."

When asked yesterday for further comment, Mr Hogan, through a spokesman said he had "nothing further to add," but asked that the full conversation be reflected in this report.

The decision to publish the picture of Mr Hogan attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, was not well received in government circles.

Mr Hogan's comments come amid growing concerns within the media at attempts to introduce privacy laws, which could be used to further restrict the ability of newspapers and broadcasters to report on important matters of public interest.

Mr Hogan, who played an instrumental part in defending Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a heave against his leadership of Fine Gael in 2010, has been a constant figure of controversy since the Coalition assumed office on March 9, 2011.

According to the latest Sunday Independent/Millward Brown nationwide opinion poll, Mr Hogan was deemed to be among the least effective ministers along side Health Minister James Reilly, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Last year, it was reported that Mr Hogan was forced to apologise in writing to John Bruton's former administrator, Anne O'Connell, for a crude sexual "insult" delivered at an Oireachtas golf outing in Connemara.

Ms O'Connell described in her letter to Mr Kenny how she felt "completely traumatised" after Mr Hogan spoke to her in a manner that was "demeaning, insulting and degrading".

Irish Independent

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