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Abstract

At the heart of the political system in Ireland, inside Leinster House, is a small groQp of journalists who cover politics. They are the political correspondents. They have a privileged position, their own rooms, access to politicians in their place of work, access to government ministers and regular briefings from the government press secretary and from the press officers of the other political parties. It is these few journalists, working together, who write the first story on any event, who decide what to cover and how stories should be covered. It is to these journalists that the government press secretary goes following a cabinet meeting to give them what he wants them to hear, all off the record. Ori radio and television, in the morning and evening newspapers, his words will appear as a 'government source', a 'source close to the government'; or more obliquely, 'indications are' or 'it would seem that the government intends'. At times, the words of the Government press secretary, a civil servant, have appeared as a source speaking for a political party. What is most important is that what is said can often be denied by the Taoiseach or government ministers, if they do not like the reaction.

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