Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he spoke to Ministers Katherine Zappone and Denis Naughton about concerns they raised over the Government's Strategic Communications Unit.

Ms Zappone, the Minister for Children, tweeted earlier that urgent clarification was needed and that taxpayers money should not be used to promote election candidates.

The Taoiseach said he had also spoken to Transport Minister Shane Ross about the issue.

It comes after concerns were raised over the promotion of Project 2040 in national and local newspapers.

Mr Varadkar said there were 160 advertorials in the regional papers which were all clearly identified and labelled.

He said that of the 160 ads, only two featured non-Oireachtas members - one was a quote from a Sinn Féin councillor and the other was a Fine Gael councillor standing beside Minister Michael Ring.

Read: Controversy around Project 2040 adverts far from over

Mr Varadkar said both were editorial decisions made by the local papers concerned, not by anyone in Government.

He said he respected the concerns that had been raised and he agreed with Minister Zappone that taxpayer’s money should never be used to promote [election] candidates.

He said there should not be a blurring of editorial lines.

Mr Varadkar said guidelines were issued to media partners and agencies to ensure this did not happen, but it was now evident those guidelines may have to be strengthened and reissued.

Asked whether he wanted to follow the example of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern in office he said: "No- he's a Taoiseach of a different party but there are areas like for example Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement where I think he did some really good work there."

Mr Varadkar said he would protect the Good Friday Agreement