The Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, has denied that he gave confidential information to a PR executive acting on behalf of Independent News & Media.

He said that he "sincerely regrets that conversation and I acknowledge that it was a political mistake" and he apologised to the Dáil.

Responding to questions from Sinn Féin communications spokesperson Brian Stanley about the controversy that broke last week, the minister also said, "I for one won't be taking any phone calls from lobbyists in future."

During Minister's Questions this morning, Fianna Fáil communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley asked the minister if he now accepts that he provided confidential information, that he misled the Dáil and his actions amounted to wrongdoing.

He said the minister is not required to resign but he should be answerable to the House.

Mr Naughten replied: "No, I did not give confidential information and I am quite categoric in relation to that."

"I acknowledge that it was a political mistake to have that conversation and I have learned from my experience and I apologise for that. I sincerely apologise for that, but I did not give confidential information, because I did not have any information available to me at that stage," he said.

"I had the same information everyone else in this house, and it was available on Google, and I do regret giving my opinion in relation to it at that point." 

Mr Stanley asked what steps have the minister is going to take to tighten up this area and if he agrees that unofficial contacts with ministers should be stopped?

The minister replied: "I won't be taking calls from lobbyists."

He added that he has apologised and he "sincerely regrets" that it happened.

Mr Dooley pressed the minister further, asking why he says he regrets taking the call from Eoghan Ó Neachtain, when he says that he did nothing wrong in the first instance?

The Clare TD reiterated his view that the minister did give confidential information.

He said: "You had a hunch as to where this was going, so it was confidential information."

Mr Naughten again said "I did not give any confidential information."

He said that the reason that he regrets and apologised for it is that this the fourth day in a row that the house has been "pre-occupied by this issue."