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Defamation Bill to be Passed through the Oireachtas

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | opinion/analysis author Wednesday December 06, 2006 10:59author by C Murray Report this post to the editors

The Privacy Bill has been temporarily 'shelved'

Last night Minister Mc Dowell informed the media that the Privacy and Defamation Bill
would not be going throught the Oireachtas together/in toto and that the Defamation
Bill, alone, was on the table at Seanad Eireann. He has to re-adjust and re-appraise
the 'Privacy' section- this was the section which criminalised 'certain forms' of
news-gathering. It had been criticised throughout Europe for 'reining' in the press.
IMC Logo
IMC Logo

The original article is at :

The links within the article include a disection of the implication of both the
privacy and defamation parts of the whole bill:

and (privacy section)

Ms Geraldine Kennedy was photographed at the Launch of the legislation for the
'Independent' Press Council- Her words " I am happy to support the Press Council
and the defamation section of the Bill, with the understanding that the privacy
section is discarded" ( I paraphrase, but you get the gist)

Thus the governement will not be controlling the press, the vested interests will.
The four person Press council will nominate people from outside the industry
to regulate and watchdog the industry.

The last time Ms Kennedy graced our screens was during the 'Bertiegate' issue on
'donations' and she still must , along with Mr Col Keena face the High Court on
the Mahon tribunal leaks.

The issues of digital freedoms are far from sorted out and of course the 'privacy'
section is only temporarily Shelved, it will be re-appraised, possibly after the
much awaited general election :

Other problems with the freedom issue include the TDR. :

Related Link:
author by C Murraypublication date Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Last week a judge , Justice Paul Carney criticised the victim impact statement and how it is
utilised by tabloid press and those pretending to be broadsheet news-gatherers, [Irish Independent
and associated titles] regarding how the Irish Media has used criminal trial to push its
own money-making propensity above the jurisdiction of the courts. The issue has been dealt
with on this newswire in relation to the Mc Cann case:-
and the reportage of the Greenhills Shooting:-

In the recent Joe O Reilly case, the media went into great detail about what the mistress wore
and skirted over the issues of how Gardai had used triangulation tech from mobile phone info
to place Mr O Reilly, without for one second looking at issues of freedom or rights.
Justice Carney made a valid point in relation to the Jurisdiction of the court and the right
of someone who has stood trial to get on with re-building their life after sentence is served.
Two issues that are related to newsgathering and the bills introduced by ex-minister
for justice [Michael Mc Dowell] have emerged this morning:

Tony O Reilly is still platforming the mother of the deceased child criticising the courts
The issue of Frank Connolly has come up on the radio and the role of the CPI.

Also Brian Cowen has put the Privacy section of the Privacy and Defamation Bill (2006) on ice,
it had been criticised all over Europe for tying the issue of News-gathering too closely to
the mechanics of the State. [The links are in the article above].

It is probably time to re-visit the damage done by the ex head of Justice to accepted liberties
and to the reputation of Mr Connolly. The only defence given by a commentator of the actions
of the Dept of Justice was that Mr Mc Dowell had acted with the highest integrity in the issue
and that press freedom was secondary to that.
a series of anti-citizen laws and a constitutional crisis do not indicate high integrity:

1. Mr Mc Dowell only legislated for the Traffic and Data Retention emergency act after
the information commisoner threatened the Dept with legal action, it had been utilised
since introduced by Mary O Rourke TD without legislation until it went through the
2. The Constitutional Crisis of 2006-2007 was an example of framing bad law and
is still on the Statute.
3. The Privacy and Defamation Bills were shown in the EU to be badly framed also.
If the integrity of the ex-minister is in question in relation to the framing of law
then the pronouncements he made which led to the destruction of Connolly's
reputation should surely be in question too.

author by C Murraypublication date Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The story is familiar to all of us, in the context of the above comment however, I would add, that
the way that mainstream media follows around the government junkets and the issue of
how politics are presented is problematic. Minister Mc Dowell Knew well how to utilise media
to create soundbite and one line dismissal of anything approaching opposition to laws that
were badly framed but in terms of media coverage he garnered an incredibly high percentage
of coverage, and particularly in the run-up to the election where he was front page or left-hand
column three times a week. The combination of tabloidism and political rhetoric that dominates
mainstream journalism is off-putting at best. Every protest group in the country can identify
media that mitigates against the issues they present whilst seemingly giving balanced
and fair coverage to issues that purport to be politically relevant. this is usually evident
in the run-up to referenda and elections.

author by C Murraypublication date Sun Oct 14, 2007 17:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Irish Times is leading on the discussion on Victim Impact Statement, though the matter would
probably not be taken seriously in the context of tabloidism and media power, when most of the
media were quite happy to trot after Mc Dowell during the CPI controversy and give him
unwonted coverage in relation to the ruining of Connolly's career.

However there is Wiki on Paul Carney and the page seems to have shrunk, with his
political and media career having less space than it had.
Short summary:-
Paul Carney has been a judge a while. he was a member of the PD's. He is aware of the
Press and not beyond making statements that media will pick up on. he incurred the wrath
of the Victim support and rape centres for attempting to bring the issue of Rape within
the remit of the district as opposed to the circuit court, meaning automatic sentencing

Brian Cowen has dropped the Privacy Bill (cf:- top of article) and stated that the press council will
regulate media behaviour, the press council includes Ms Geraldine kennedy who was
appointed by Michael Mc Dowell. The case on which Justice Carney was speaking was
involved in how the Tabloids and pretend broadsheets reported on a murder trial which
challenged the independence of the Judiciary, equivalent with 'Trial by Media'.

Ex -Minister Nora Owen has joined the debate on victim impact assessments and media
coverage but the issue of mis-use of media by power is uninvestigated
which is why I brought up the CPI in the last comment. The work of the CPI was
destroyed by the influence and abuse of media by those in power and if politicians
are serious about a viable press council they need to look at both sides of the issue.

The Privacy and Defamation Bill was another example of badly framed law in this
country and Cowen is right to drop it, but Press freedom implies freedom from
corporatism too and the vested interests and budgets do not give equal and fair
coverage during electoral and referenda campaigns to the smaller parties.

Links to indymedia on Connolly and CPI in comments above.
Digitial Rights and the Privacy and Defamation Bill at top of page.
Nora Owen:-

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