The Tánaiste has spoken out on the turnover of staff at the office of Junior Transport Minister Ivor Callely and said that if public servants feel they are not in a position to work with a particular minister, then clearly there are difficulties with the situation.

Responding to a question about the minister, Mary Harney said she had not spoken to the Taoiseach or Mr Callely about the issue.

But she said that if so many people feel, for whatever reason, that they are not able to work with Minister Callely, then that raises concerns.

The Tánaiste said all ministers need to be able to work with civil servants and she was not aware why these particular difficulties have arisen.

Earlier Bertie Ahern and Mr Callely declined to comment on the controversy surrounding the minister's staffing arrangements.

Speaking to reporters prior to an engagement this morning, Mr Callely said he would not be commenting on the issue, and that it was a matter for personnel.

Mr Ahern also declined to answer questions on the issue this morning.

Today's papers are reporting that Niall Phelan, Mr Callely's former personal political assistant, had been offered a new car by the minister if he withdrew his resignation.

In a letter published today, Mr Phelan described the offer of the car as 'wholly inappropriate'.