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Coronavirus crisis no justification for restricting media questions, says NUJ

3 April 2020

The NUJ in Ireland has strongly criticised the procedure adopted by the minister for finance and public expenditure this week requiring journalists to submit written questions at a restricted press conference.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary described as “without justification” the requirement that journalists invited to a briefing by Paschal Donohoe TD should submit written questions in advance, with no opportunity for  follow-up questions. The pre-submitted questions were read by an official. Séamus said:

"I understand that appropriate social distancing measures had been put in place. There was no reason, either from a public health perspective or logistically, why questions should not have been allowed. Like every other sector of the community media workers have had to adapt and work in accordance within necessary restrictions but these type of measures are unnecessary and send a very bad signal. The current crisis should not be used as a pretext for limiting the ability of the media to question ministers directly or to change long standing protocols. If this practice were to continue news organisations might well ask whether it is appropriate or even within the guidelines on necessary work to send senior reporters to act as props in well choreographed set pieces."

Tags: , ireland, media, government ireland, coronavirus, right to report, media access, media freedom