It’s Been A Privilege



This morning…


More as we get it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.47.13

Denis O’Brien

Ms Justice Una Ni Raifeartaigh dismissed the businessman’s action against the Clerk of the Dáil and the State after upholding the respondents core argument – the Constitution prohibits the courts intervening over “utterances” in either House of the Oireachtas.

Article 15.13 of the Constitution states members of the Oireachtas are not amenable to any court or authority other than the Houses themselves for “utterances” in the Houses.

Denis O’Brien loses High Court action over bank affairs (Irish Times)

Previously: REDACTED’s 1,25 per cent Interest Rate



G’wan Catherine.

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88 thoughts on “It’s Been A Privilege

  1. Declan

    Despite the pickets; it’s sunny and he who should not be named lost ; ) the day is looking up

        1. CiunCainteach

          Compared to the person who feels compelled to make meaningful contributions such as yours…

          1. CiunCainteach

            When someone makes a comment that displays an egregious lack of self-awareness, I feel the need to point it out.

            I’m glad you remembered me and our interactions though. Good times!

      1. realPolithicks

        I’m with you Starina, it’s good to see these establishment figures taking a hammering every once in a while.

  2. Fact Checker

    Do we trust a collegiate group such as Oireachtas members to effectively regulate the utterances of their own peers?

    Can you think of another public body without any kind of external accountability framework in this dimension?

      1. Fact Checker

        Clearly the capacity of elected representatives to bring issues to public light is essential in a democracy. This right has been used to truly excellent effect by some of the TDs first elected in 2011.

        BUT……….There have been clear instances of things being said which are demonstrably factually incorrect AND damaging to someone’s character.

        And a fair bit in between.

        So I ask: should TDs have essentially an infinite right to say what they please within the Chamber?

        1. Clampers Outside

          No. I dont think so.

          But that doesn’t mean that DOB or the like should be allowed remove the Constitutional privilege of whatever “utterances” they may make. Maybe more stringent Dail rules of self policing could be applied for infringements. How those rules should be enforced tho….

          But it’s a win for democracy that DOB lost today, and that’s made my day :)

        2. ahjayzis

          Yes. Under penalty censure from the houses themselves.

          Give me some evidence that the centuries old tradition of parliamentary privilege has worked against the public good.

          Emphasis on the public good aspect. I think we already stack the deck too much in favour of protecting individuals ‘reputation’ and not enough on the side of the public good. If ti were reversed maybe certain nameless slime-balls could have been prosecuted after several unnamed Tribunals of Inquiry made serious but non-actionable findings of fact about them.

          Last year we had a farce of a weekend where the national media wouldn’t or couldn’t report on utterances in our national parliament because one man not even habitually resident in Ireland with lots of money scared them. He scared them because he has money and lawyers – while he may not ever have a case against you, that’s never stopped him pursuing you for months on end wasting money he can well afford and you can’t. It;s called a ‘chilling effect’ – I want to say X but is it really worth the solicitors letters. You have your work cut out to argue that expanding our draconian defamation laws in his favour will somehow benefit our society.

          1. Ratatattat

            Brilliant comment but you didn’t address the central point of FactCheckers argument. Hard cases make crap law.

          2. anne

            Boll*x cliche that – “hard cases make bad law”

            Lord Denning had the following to say on it:

            “It should be deleted from our vocabulary. It comes to this: ‘Unjust decisions make good law’: whereas they do nothing of the kind. Every unjust decision is a reproach to the law or to the judge who administers it. If the law should be in danger of doing injustice, then equity should be called in to remedy it.”

            Hard cases do not make bad law. They demand good law.

            Brain dead repeating of a stupid cliche.

          3. ahjayzis

            “Do we trust a collegiate group such as Oireachtas members to effectively regulate the utterances of their own peers?

            Can you think of another public body without any kind of external accountability framework in this dimension?”

            This one?

            I kind of do. I mean we have to. We trust them with our lives and safety and welfare every day. I can’t think of a catastrophic out-turn having come from Dail privilege? Did Mary Harney scotch a court case once?

            The Oireachtas isn’t any public body though, it’s our democratically elected parliament. The external accountability framework is the electorate. I’d like to see a plan where you can formally regulate the speech in the parliament in a way that isn’t farcically undemocratic or open to abuse by a majority over a minority, i.e. government parties censuring opposition parties.

            A lot of whistleblower revelations came up in the Dail – most were proved right – would they have a lesser or higher chance of being exposed if there’s a chilling effect on TDs?

          4. Fact Checker

            You are presumably a fully compliant tax-paying citizen. How would you feel if a parliamentarian accused you personally of tax evasion?

            Parliamentary privilege is very important and generally well used. But should it be absolute and infinite? Are the motives and integrity of all TDs always pure at all times when speaking on the record?

          5. anne

            Let’s stick to the facts and not these imaginary scenarios where ordinary citizens are targets for dodging tax by a few bob.

            We’re talking about a billionaire who received massive tax write offs funded by the Irish taxpayers.

            There was nothing untrue said in the dail about his dealings with Anglo/IRBC.

            He happened to feel he was entitled to privacy, even though the taxpayer funded his debt by tens of millions.. eh deluded.

            The gall of him. And he a tax exile of Malta to top it off.

          6. AnAccountant

            “How would you feel if a parliamentarian accused you personally of tax evasion?”

            Right. Some guy on an internet comments section is the same as a multi millionaire who controls significant amounts of the information distribution channels in this country.

          7. Fact Checker

            But today’s judgement basically says that anything can be said about anyone.

            Take for example a public body currently in the news: An Garda Siochána:

            It has at least THREE external accountability bodies already:
            Policing Authority
            Garda Inspectorate

            What people are arguing here is that there should be zero external accountability for utterances of parliamentarians.

          8. AnAccountant

            “But today’s judgement basically says that anything can be said about anyone.”

            You and I are unlikely to have a TD talk about us during session. A millionaire who controls vast amounts of our media and so has influence over what people think is not just “anyone”.

            “What people are arguing here is that there should be zero external accountability for utterances of parliamentarians.”

            They are accountable *to us*. We vote them out when we don’t like what they’re doing.

          9. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            “We vote them out when we don’t like what they’re doing.”

            We don’t, though. We keep voting for them again and again.

          10. Fact Checker

            I am a generally law abiding citizen and have no criminal record.

            I am unlikely to face arbitrary detention and false prosecution by AGS compared to, say, someone who has had frequent interaction with the criminal justice system.

            Does my comfortable position mean that AGS should not have external oversight and scrutiny? No it does not.

          11. AnAccountant

            You are again comparing apples and oranges. Denis O’Brien controls a significant percentage of our media. Denis O’Brien has friendly personal relationships with people in our government. His media empire is not going to inform the people, who have a right to know, about what Denis O’Brien does and has done. Dail privilege protects ordinary people, like Catherine Murphy, from wealthy, well connected capitalists and their expensive legal teams so she can inform ordinary people, like us, about information we have a right to know about.

          12. Andy

            DOB is rich and owns media assets so its grand for politicians to say whatever they want about him in the Dail with no meaningful oversight.

            Considering both Pearse Doherty & Catherine Murphy spoke about his banking arrangements – both citing different interest rates. One of them must have been telling porkies as they both can’t have been right. Neither have admitted to being wrong and the Dail didn’t get to the bottom of it.

            Politicians self censuring is about as pointless as politicians governing their expense accounts.

          13. anne

            Ah here..DOB doesn’t want oversight because nothing said about him was untrue. He wants to silence TDs in the Dail. Oversight would entail analysing what was said and him/his lawyers proving what was untrue. He doesn’t want to do that of course.

            He just wanted his privacy. If the Irish Taxpayer gives you tens of millions in write offs and preferential interest rates on state owned banks, we have a right to know about it.

        3. Sheik Yahbouti

          Then it is up to the miscreants’ fellow representatives to nail any lies which are published. A small price to pay for the last vestige of independence from the influence of money.

          1. realPolithicks

            “Of course. But do you think this will happen?”

            This is something which happens quite rarely in the Dail, I think you’re overreacting a little.

          2. rotide

            Wait a minute, I thought the dail was infested with the landlord classes and are certainly not independant from the influence of money.

            Make up your mind.

          3. jusayinlike

            And like that he’s gone, just like his poo talk about RTE being a worthy state broadcaster..

    1. rotide

      This was obviously the right decision, however I share Fact Checker’s concern on this. I’m surprised the SF/INM reporter thing hasn’t been brought up.

  3. curmudegon

    Would have set a hell of precedent if it passed. Dáil utterances are the bulwark against libel laws being used and abused (by those who can afford to) suppress our few honest politicians.

  4. newsjustin

    In other billionaire news, ARC were recently “encouraged” by SIPO to return George Soros’ €20K+, lest the Gardai be called in.

          1. newsjustin

            I think this particular DO’B story illustrates pretty well the importance of not shooting the messanger.

            Feel free to contradict the report. Perhaps someone from ARC can set the record straight – if straightening is required?

        1. Clampers Outside

          Thanks News.

          At least they registered with SIPO, and have complied with the rules.
          – – – –
          When I wrote to SIPO complaining about YD’s (and Iona Institute) large advertising budget spending which I was able to calculate to be upwards of €100k* some years ago when they were more active, SIPO were toothless to act as they had not complied with the voluntary registration with them.
          (* numbers calculated via info from
          – – – –
          I am delighted to see Soros money being kicked out, regardless of who or what he supports.

          1. newsjustin

            Yeah. They certainly seemed keen to comply with rules. If anything, it looks like their honesty led to them being made give the money back. Other organisations who benefitted from the same source and reportedly used it for slightly different purposes didn’t have to return the money.

            I have no gripe with Soros. But less pro-abortion funding must be a good thing.

          2. Nigel

            I agree. It seems like a very good time to be keeping foreign funding out of domestic political campaigns. I just hope the enforcement isn’t as one-sided as that IC story – eesh.

  5. Spaghetti Hoop

    That birthday party picture always makes me smile. Now there is this news article to go with it ;)

    1. The Bottler

      Love that pic, always brings to mind “This is NOT a public park bench…….now f*** off!

  6. crazy horse

    any chance the interweb can go back to citing original sources, such as instead of opinionated rags like the Times? thanks in advance

    1. Andy

      It’s grand Dav, don’t worry about us we don’t work on success fees.

      It’s more a quantity rather than a quality business.

      1. dav

        don’t forget the pat on the head from the vulture funds and corporate tax evaders, that must make yer day..

  7. AssPants

    “four legs good, two legs bad”…………. isn’t this how every so called democracy is managed. Rules for the electorate none for the elected!

    1. collynomial

      Jesus, it’s not like you don’t know they have these rights in the first place.

      The electorate chose their elected representatives, it’s up to them to decide who they put into that position. It’s the electorates civic responsibility to chose the best people to bestow those rights to.

      The separation of powers (Judicial and Legislative in this case) is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy and this was a case where that was demonstrated.

      Also, ffs your “four legs good” analogy comes from a book critiquing the single party rule of the USSR.

      You sir are an imbecile.

      1. AssPants

        And the difference between the current political regime and the USSR is less than a hair breath.

        Us imbeciles are pretty good at the reading, so we know exactly where the reference comes from; hence the purpose for quoting it. Sometimes I wonder if Broadsheet is actually located in Leinster House for the amount of social pacifying and generic “trolls” which accommodate themselves here is laughable.

        The current government is not a government elected by the majority of the electorate. It is a government which practically elected itself. In addition, the candidates which grace our lamp posts during general elections are rarely different than the previous election. So to suggest that the “electorate” has a choice is possibly correct, however the choices provided offer no diversity, change of regime, change of procedure or any sense that the electorate has any influence in how the state is run…..

        1. rotide

          “And the difference between the current political regime and the USSR is less than a hair breath.”

          FYI , This is where you went from the standard ‘govt is bad’ ranter to imbecile.

        2. collynomial

          That’s a nice straw man you’ve made there. My point relates to the existence of democracy as demonstrated by the ability for people to vote to elect representatives and for those elected representatives to be free to speak unencumbered by the judiciary. Your retort relates to the goverment, i.e. the executive branch of government to which neither of those representatives which spoke in thr Dáil are members of (Murphy and Doherty).

          You have new clue you are born if you think Ireland is a hairs breath away from the USSR. Good luck in the gulags friendo, because that’s where you’re headed for publishing an opinon questioning the authority of the state.

          1. AssPanst

            …. its moments when senior political individuals and appointees of senior political appointments believe that they are beyond accountability that Government paint this country like a Cold War era.

            Not referring to anything in particular, nothing like a massive police force scandal, nothing like a political leader suggesting that they will address their tenure at an agreed point, and then only to address it at that agreed point by announcing they are not going to address their tenure at all.

            Not referring to a elected Government ministers whom have registered default judgements against them, and their enterprises for failure to pay commercial debt and/or declared taxes. Not referring to sitting ministers involving themselves in commercial negotiations with state organizations.

            which part of Leinster House do the government appoint the Broadsheet trolls?

        3. Sheik Yahbouti

          Asspants, bang on. I too am sick of being castigated for the alleged ‘choices’ that we make. The electorate in reality are given a very thin ‘choice’ indeed in any election. One is left studying the entrails, trying to select “the least worst”. The quality of candidate, from a public service perspective, is abysmal. Your Sheik, alas, would not appeal to the electorate :-D

  8. DD

    Poor old Dinny, life is tough.

    The Blueshirts will surely send a state contract his way to cheer him up.

  9. Sheik Yahbouti

    ‘into each life a little rain must fall ‘ – tough titty Dinny, we’re not quite Haiti yet – nearly, but not quite.

  10. Kenny Plank

    Why wasn’t this heard in the Supreme Court? Won’t it just be appealed to there? And from there to Europe? On and on…

    good result, but lets see who wins on extra time and then penalties…

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Ah, Plank, can’t we have even one day of cheer before you ‘harsh our buzz ‘? A tiny victory gives you the heart to continue.

  11. gringo

    Just watch as our political gofors try to figure out how to reverse this surfeit of democracy.

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