A Fine Gael Minister has rejected claims that comments she made criticising the production of a three-part programme on convicted drug dealer John Gilligan were ‘opportunistic’.
Minister of State in the Department of Health with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton was accused by programme makers of being ‘opportunistic’ after she criticised the decision to produce a three -part series on Mr Gilligan.
Her comments were made during a radio interview when she was asked for her view by a journalist.
“I fail to understand how answering a journalist’s question can be described as opportunistic. I was asked my views about the appropriateness of airing a documentary about a notorious gangland figure and I gave my view,” Minister Naughton said.
“We must remember that John Gilligan is a convicted drug trafficker whose gang was responsible for the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin. His actions have caused untold misery and devastation in communities across Ireland.
“Freedom of the press is very important in any democracy and John Gilligan threatened that democracy through his criminal actions. I would hope that any journalist involved in this programme would challenge any assertions he might make. I would not be favour of banning anyone from the airwaves, but I would question the merit of programmes like this.”
Today, 71-year old John Gilligan was handed a 22 month suspended prison sentence in a Spanish court on drug smuggling charges.