Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Brian Cowen, TD., on the confidentiality lapse at Farmleigh
Yesterday, following the BIIGC Conference at Farmleigh, a set of confidential briefing papers appears to have been inadvertently left by an official of my Department in a room to which the media had access. This is a breach of confidentiality which should not have occurred. I recognize and greatly regret the potential for complicating the already difficult situation in Northern Ireland which the two Governments, with the Pro-Agreement parties, are seeking to address.
It is important that the nature of such briefing papers is properly understood. When Ministers attend significant meetings, their officials normally prepare a set of background papers containing information and advice. These advisory papers are prepared on the responsibility of the officials concerned. Policy positions and decision making remain of course the prerogative and responsibility of the Minister. In this instance, I did not draw on these particular papers in my participation in the meeting.
The outlines of what occurred yesterday are already clear but an indepth investigation is continuing. Follow-up action, including further improvements in our security systems, will be decided in the near future.