Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has rejected claims that Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney tried to intimidate a pilot who refused to fly him to Cork because of expected poor weather.
According to a report in the Irish Times today, Mr Coveney contacted a pilot directly after his early morning flight to Cork was cancelled because of predicted fog.
The incident happened on 17 June 2015, when Mr Coveney was minister for defence.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised concerns in the Dáil over reports that Mr Coveney may have "compromised aviation safety".
He asked the Taoiseach about the "rather disturbing report" in this morning's Irish Times about the questioning of an experienced pilot by Mr Coveney in relation to flight that did not take place because of fog at Cork Airport.
"The minister actually personally rang the pilot, which I find extremely surprising," he said.
He said there were exchanges between the two and there has been the revelation that the Air Corps was very unhappy and that something like that had never happened before in over 25 years.
He said that "it can be construed as some sort of intimidation or pressure on the pilot. We have seen this happening in other countries with terrible results. In other words the issue of safety comes to mind and the professional's judgement should be the final judgement."
He added: "Safety should never be compromised by anyone's diary agenda and there should be clear protocols."
In response, the Taoiseach said that when it comes to aviation "safety must come first".
"Everyone in the house can be assured that when it comes to aviation, it's always the pilot's decision and not the passenger's," he said.
He rejected claims that Mr Coveney's intervention was "intimidatory".
"There was absolutely no suggestion that Minister Coveney, or any other minister, would try to second-guess the judgement of a pilot" he said.
Mr Coveney earlier said he has the utmost respect for all military personnel and his time in the Department of Defence would show that.
Mr Coveney said he did not want to add to the story any further, apart from to say that he had total respect for the judgement of military personnel.
Asked if he acknowledged the incident had occurred, he said he was not going to talk about it any further.