CHILDREN'S Minister James Reilly has said it is not appropriate for legal firm Arthur Cox to represent tobacco firms and state agencies.
Dr Reilly is currently reviewing the relationship between the State's child and family agency Tulsa and the firm of solicitors representing Japan Tobacco International (JTI), which is threatening legal action against the Government if it introduces plain packaging for cigarettes.
Dr Reilly said he has a "problem" with Arthur Cox continuing to provide legal advice to Tulsa if it is representing tobacco firms.
"I am very concerned about a perceived or real conflict of interest here of legal firms representing both sides in a hugely high-stakes situation like this," he said.
"We are fighting for the future of our children and the health of our nation against the determination of Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International to increase their profits at the cost to people's health in this country.
"The Government has been very, very clear and very solid all the way through on this and we have had support right across the Oireachtas.
"We are not for turning. We will never allow the profits of international companies and multinationals from wherever they come to be at the cost of the health of our citizens and particularly the cost of the health of our children.
"I fail to see how we send the right message by employing legal firms that are prepared to represent the tobacco industry, whose history in this area is quite appalling, to be quite frank.
"Their inability to come out and tell the truth time after time has been quite shocking, and we are going to stand firm against them."
Dr Reilly called on all legal firms to come out and say they would not represent tobacco interests.
"We are talking about a core issue, one of the most important core issues in this country and for across Europe and the world and we are fighting for the right of people to live their lives to their full potential and full longevity," he said on RTE Radio One's This Week.
"This product kills people. It is the only one in the world that is licensed and legal that, when used according to the manufacturer's instructions, is going to kill one in two of its addicted people prematurely from cancer and other causes of death, so we are 100pc clear on this.
"If you have watched patients, as I have done, struggling for breath with chronic obstructive airways disease, dying and wasting away from cancer and the hurt and the trauma of their families, it is shocking and disturbing."
Arthur Cox did not respond to requests for a comment.