The new Minister of State for Drugs Policy Frank Feighan said public officials and people in RTE are "snorting cocaine all over the place".
The Fine Gael TD made the claim on a local radio debate during the general election campaign in the course of a discussion on the problem of recreational drug use and crime in Ireland.
Speaking to Ocean FM on January 31st, Mr Feighan said: "You talk about drugs, I remember 2002, I was talking about cannabis and nobody was listening. Cannabis, like alcohol, is a gateway drug to cocaine and we had this lovely feeling about it, 'sure it's a bit of fun'.
The Sligo-Leitrim TD stood by the comments when contacted by Midwest Radio this morning, saying drug use is again widespread throughout society and needs to be acknowledged.
As the Minister for public health, well being and national drugs strategy he says he’s determined to bring a health-led approach to this important issue.