‘I Think Having An Independent News And Media Is A Cornerstone To Our Democracy’

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This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

During Leaders’ Questions…

Fianna Fáil’s leader Michael Martin raised the alleged data breach at Independent News and Media and matters of editorial independence and independence of journalists.

He said the recent events were a “wake-up call” for the Oireachtas to “deal with these issues”.

Mr Martin mentioned a report published last year by Mr Justice John Murray about the protection of journalistic sources, called ‘Review of the law on the retention of an access to communications data’.

Mr Martin said this report hasn’t been acted upon since it was published in April 2017 and called for a national law to be established for source protection.

Mr Martin added:

“Will you reaffirm to the house because I think something happened yesterday, whereby an actor of the State – the Director of the Office Corporate Enforcement was essentially, received correspondence that in line of his duty, he may be peronsally held liable in respect of certain things.

“I think it’s very important that the messages goes out from the Oireachtas and form Government that any actor of the State is indemnified and will not lose out personally in any way for conducting his duty on behalf of the taxpayer and on behalf of the State.

“I think it’s very important that that affirmation should be given in respect of the ODCE director today.”

Mr Varadkar said:

“Thanks very much, deputy, for raising this important question and to answer yours, I think given recent revelations, yes we are going to have to give consideration to legislation in this area to protect sources.

“I’m not aware of any legislation being drafted currently by Government and I haven’t seen any legislation drafted by Opposition, in the form of private members’ bills in the past two years but perhaps, perhaps time has certainly come for Government to dust down those reports and give consideration to legislation in this area.

I think having an Independent News and Media is a cornerstone to our democracy, it is after all the fourth estate.

“I believe journalists must be free to pursue stories that they want to pursue. Their sources should be protected, free from any unjust interference, external or internal.

“We need to the plurality of voices in the media. We need to ensure that these voices are not drowned our or silenced and we also need diversity and ownership. So I commend journalists who work to report on this story, including journalists at Independent News and Media who haven’t allowed their independence to be compromised.

A report of the data breach represent a significant a very significant threat to the freedom of our press, however I think that the way that the media has responded to this threat to date should reassure us that our press will not be silenced.

“Obviously, any alleged breach of personal data is a matter of concern, heather it relates to journalists or public citizens and it’s important to say that although this is now a matter before the courts, we need to respect that and bear in mind that in terms of our contributions and I know the deputy has.

“The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the ODCE, which is a Government office at the Department of Business has now made an application to the high court under Section 748 of the Companiess Act 2014 to appoint inspectors to investigate the affairs of INM.

“This is now an enforcement matter for the ODCE. Section 949, subsection 3 of the Companies Act, provides that the Director of Corporate Enforcement shall be independent in the performance of its statutory functions.

“That case commenced as of yesterday.

In terms of indemnity, it is absolutely the case that any public servant that acts properly, and acts in accordance with their mandate, and doesn’t breach any law or ethical principles is of course indemnified by the State.”

Meanwhile…

After Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald also asked questions in light of the alleged data breach at INM, Tipperary’s Independent TD Michael Lowry asked his question of the Taoiseach…

He started:

“Sorry to trouble you with more mundane and practical matters but some of you city representatives and urban centres wouldn’t recognise or realise the huge problem, the massive problem we have in relation to rural and county roads…”

Watch live here

21 thoughts on “‘I Think Having An Independent News And Media Is A Cornerstone To Our Democracy’

  1. Daisy Chainsaw

    Shouldn’t that phrase read: “I think having independent Independent News and Media is a cornerstone to our democracy, it is after all the fourth estate.”

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      Sorry, that wasn’t any sort of a criticism of yee Broadsheeters, but Leo’s Bull sheeting!

  2. realPolithicks

    Nice attempt by lowry to change the subject, there’s no connection there at at all is there?

    1. Blonto

      I thought the same thing. The unoriginal dumbass couldn’t come up with anything better than “what about the roads.”
      And throwing in the urban/rural divide too. Didn’t the Healy-Raes tell us that it was the fairies.
      The Dail is an embarrassment – apart from the exceptional few, that are way too few……

      1. ahjayzis

        The divide’s not fupping wide enough.

        We need to unliterally declare Tipperary an independent livestockrapeocracy.

      2. realPolithicks

        The fact that this bozo is reelected every time does say something about the electorate in Tipp.

  3. Boj

    “Mr Martin said this report hasn’t been acted upon since it was published in April 2017 and called for a national law to be established for source protection.”

    How about a call for a national law for when a report is commissioned it MUST be acted upon, otherwise what was the point of the report in the first place other to waste time and money? That’d scupper the easy out of “I’m waiting on the report” responses. When the report is available, act on it or you’re all frikkin fired!

  4. Ron Dolan

    The fact Lowry hasn’t been brought to court, let alone convicted, tells us all we need to know.

    As for Varadkar, a great man for saying ‘yes, we need to do that, I recognise the issue, I see the problem, something must be done derp derp derp’ without ever actually doing a tap.

    We sure do deserve these clowns.

  5. GiggidyGoo

    Leokins just can’t help himself – has to choose phrases to try rub people’s noses in it. Knows his master is looking on, and thinks he is gaining kudos. He is no Kenny, Lowry, Noonan. He is in for some shock.

    1. jusayinlike

      +1

      What has this guy actually accomplished in any office, taoiseach, ministerial portfolio or td??

      Seriously anyone??

      1. BobbyJ

        Even the Sec Gen of the Dept of Social Protection said his ‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All” campaign was a mistake. He’s all optics, nothing else

    2. Adama

      No Kenny, Lowry or Noonan? Hopefully you’re not suggesting that those vassals are something to aspire to? As for Leo the longer he’s Taoiseach the more smacked-arse his face becomes.

    1. Frill the 8th

      maybe he and his constituency colleague should do what it says in me buke

      stick to filling potholes
      and lay’ve the women of Ireland look after their own wholes.

      or sum’ting like that
      ye get the jist anyway

  6. Frilly Keane

    Ya know lads
    One way to have an independent media
    and encourage Journalists to be what it says on the tin

    Is to butt out of dealing with them directly, palling and knobbing around with them, or taking meetings on the quiet (MM and Paul Williams ahem….)

    Government and Government Depts should not have any direct contact or relationship with any of them
    other than through their separate dedicated staff functions
    This would work kinda like this;
    Dept of an Tay want to issue a statement or a presser: give it to their Public Liaison Unit, which will be set up like their payroll function – separate closed key fobbed door office kinda thing; Public Liaison then issue it to all outlets registered/ enrolled on their mailing and distribution list
    Dept of Ag want to place ads for expressions of interest in trialing Hemp Horticulture; ad is prepared by their Graphics Team, approved by Bosses, signed off by Legal, and then sent out for pricing/ tender; latter conducted by purchasing/ accounts payable depts

    Once anyone is elected to the Dail they should surrender all contact with paid up members of the established media at any level and in any role, unless there is a direct and publicly known relationship ie Jim and Miriam; which will be recorded into Members Risk Reports and given a risk score
    And they should be made sign a Pledge not to liaise or communicate with anyone or outlet within the established media beyond the nature of the relationship on their Risk Profile
    it could all be managed via established and secure Rick and Compliance Officers and the obvious channels as mentioned; Public Affairs, PR/ Marketing/ Communications and Purchasing Departments

    Say Sean O’R wants to interview Regina, then his producers/ bookers apply to the above set up, and it is arranged via that; it could even be all done through an online secure portal; like they RyanAir app

    Just saying
    stop having sly meetings in car-parks and late night texting with Tubs
    remove Marian from the speed-dial – btw, phones are provided so that can easily be managed.

    If they were anyway genuine about leaving the Press and Media alone, independent and free from influence, tis easily done

    Just by changing their own behavior
    But will they _ú_k

    Ah here’ Lowry was right to change the tune
    All MM and Leo and the Confidence & Supply Team were doing was paying Lip Service
    Lip Service
    That’s all FF/FG are at now till after the next budget

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