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EFJ backs concerns over Denis O'Brien reporting curbs

1 June 2015

The steering committee of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has strongly supported the NUJ stance on the threat to media freedom in Ireland.  

The committee discussed developments arising from legal action by media tycoon Denis O'Brien and issued the following statement;

"The High Court in Dublin will be asked tomorrow, June 2, to make a determination on an application by The Irish Times newspaper and the public service broadcaster RTE on the right of the media to report on a matter discussed in the Irish parliament last week.

"The matter related to the alleged financial relationship between an Irish State owned bank IBRC and Denis O'Brien, who holds a controlling interest in a large number of media organisation in Ireland. Denis O'Brien is the most influential figure in the private media sector in Ireland, with a diverse range of global business interests.

"As a result of a  court order secured by Mr O'Brien RTE has been unable  to broadcast a report on O'Brien and his dealings with the bank. This order has now been used to inhibit broadcast and publication of comments made in the Irish parliament  by Deputy Catherine Murphy on matters of clear public interest. This is an unprecedented development.

"The reporting of comments in the Irish parliament is covered by parliamentary privilege. The use of a court injunction in this manner has fundamental implications for freedom of the media and for the exercise of parliamentary democracy.

"It is noted that some media organisations chose to report the comments made by Deputy Murphy.

"The National Union of Journalists has strongly defended the right of the media to report  parliamentary proceedings and has been to the fore in highlighting the threat to media freedom.
"The EFJ supports the NUJ in Ireland and those media organisations currently seeking to defend the right of the media to report on all matters of public interest. The right to report on parliamentary debate is fundamental and absolute.

"The EFJ will continue to monitor developments."

Tags: , denis o'brien, rte, media freedom, dublin, irish times, efj