It has been claimed that an attempt is being made to silence the State's corporate watchdog as it seeks to appoint inspectors to investigate corporate governance issues at Independent News and Media.

Opposition politicians sought assurances in the Dáil that the Director of Corporate Enforcement will receive the full protection of the State.

This is the first time alleged data breach at Independent News and Media has been discussed in the Dáil.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said an independent media is a cornerstone of this country's democracy.

To safeguard it he promised the Government would consider legislation to protect journalists' sources.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin also urged him to send out a message that anyone acting on behalf of the State is protected in his duties.

This was a reference by Mr Martin to the Director of Corporate Enforcement, Ian Drennan, receiving correspondence that he could personally be held personally responsible for certain matters around the INM investigation.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was her view that an attempt was being made to silence Mr Drennan.

The Taoiseach confirmed there was an indemnity in place for public servants.

Mr Varadkar said that it was important to allow the ODCE to do its work, but anyone has the right to challenge a decision in the courts.