“I Believe In Free Speech And I Believe In A Free Press”

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From top: The Currency; Denis O’Brien; Green Party leader Eamon Ryan; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan raised with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the recent decision by Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp – which owns Today FM, Newstalk, Dublin’s 98FM and Spin 1038 – to ban all The Currency staff, journalists, and contributors from appearing on the company’s radio stations.

It follows the implementation of similar ban against Irish Times‘ journalists in 2017.

He said:

“It seems to me that there’s a lacuna on our law. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland seems unwilling to take action against Communicorp which recently made a decision that certain members of the media, Tom Lyons and Ian Kehoe, from currency.ie [sic, thecurrency.news] will be restricted from taking part in radio programmes on their stations.

“It’s similar to the decision taken two years ago in response to an article Fintan O’Toole wrote which saw The Irish Times’ journalists banned from the stations.

“The recent case they say it because of commercial rivalry.

“I sense, I’ve talked to every grouping here today, is that every party is in agreement that that’s an egregious or has a poor effect on our democracy. We need a free press which is open to debate and allows different voices to be heard.

“And whether it’s for commercial reasons or whether it’s an editorial view of a certain owner – that they mightn’t like what is written in a paper – to ban journalists from radio stations is not what we want.

“To avoid the legislation, could I ask you maybe to join the other leaders and groups of every grouping in this House, to write a letter to Communicorp asking them to reverse the decision in both cases and to stand up for press freedom.

“I’d be keen to hear your views on that so I’d be happy to join the deputy in that.

In response, Mr Varadkar said:

“My sentiments are the same as his [Eamon Ryan’s] on this matter. I believe in free speech and I believe in a free press and I don’t believe anyone should be banned from the airwaves – journalist or citizen – unless it’s for a very good reason.

“And those reasons should be somebody inciting hatred but I don’t think that anyone should be banned from the radio, from TV, or from any publication, solely based on who their employer is.”

The Currency was launched last week by former Sunday Business Post editor Ian Kehoe and business editor Tom Lyons.

Hours after the website went live, Communicorp producers were informed of the ban.

Earlier this year, Mr O’Brien lost a defamation action he took against the Sunday Business Post over articles published in March 2015 about a Government-commissioned but unpublished PricewaterhouseCoopers report into Ireland’s top 22 borrowers.

The newspaper reported that PwC recorded Mr O’Brien as No.10 on the list.

In November 2008, after receiving the PwC report, the then Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Dáil that Ireland was right to guarantee the banks in September 2008.

He also told the Dáil that there was enough money in Ireland’s banks for the next three years.

Mr O’Brien claimed the articles concerning him in the Sunday Business Post were defamatory of him but the jury found this was not the case.

Previously: Converted

Closing Arguments

17 thoughts on ““I Believe In Free Speech And I Believe In A Free Press”

  1. eoin

    Well, fair play to the boys, they’re certainly getting their full money’s worth from the Communicorp ban, but seriously, we’re realistically talking about two radio stations, TodayFM and Newstalk, which probably have around 1/5th of the talk radio market. Is it really a freedom of speech issue for Communicorp not to give employees of a rival media business a platform? It’s not really a plurality issue, is it.

    What is a pluarility issue is Virgin TV (TV3 especially) which is using Pat Kenny, Matt Cooper, Ivan Yates and a handful of other Communicorp employees to produce its news and current affairs. This is certainly an area of concern, but the BAI seems uninterested (again).

  2. McVitty

    How about Cancel Culture? – here’s looking at Kevin Myers, George Hook and John Waters, all of whom made valuable contributions to public discourse and found themselves taken out and removed from the public square of the “global village”. Ownership and influence doesn’t stop with DOB and Communicorp.

    1. V

      The only thing stopping that trio from being aired anywhere is their own big traps

      Spare me the indignation

      1. McVitty

        and intolerant attitudes that increasingly prevail over this sad land – we survived the British occupation and the over-reach of the church but we could never have guessed it would be the likes of you that would quench the Irish soul and the naturally desire to express oneself…

        1. V

          That’s the psychopath in me Mc

          But I’m not the one stopping those people from appearing anywhere
          Nor would I complain about them
          AFAIC the more the merrier

          This trio’s respective cauterisation was for commercial reasons

          Advertisers and other financial pressures – ie: running the risk of potential settlements, or reputational damage for the broadcaster
          Like say, if one of them grabbed a colleague by the balls

          It’s not censorship
          It’s Risk Management

        2. Mr.Fart

          desire to express oneself .. is that what you call Hook blaming rape victims for their own rapes?

          1. McVitty

            You’ve taken his statement out of context and happily so Mr.Fart…I don’t like him either but I don’t see the point in taking his statement of out context and using that as the rope to hang him with. Sign of the times.

    2. Tea And Brexits

      How can we get Marian Finucane, Ryan Tubridy, and Ray D’Arcy added into the Cancel Culture?

          1. McVitty

            Miriam O’Callaghan, Ryan Tubridy, Ray Darcy and Marian Finucane are the worst in the very sanctimonious category.

            Donal Skehan, Eoghan McDermott, Kathryn Thomas and Bernard o’ Shea are the worst in the very annoying category.

  3. Truth in the News

    Legislation is needed to deal with commercial monopolies be O’Brien or Goodman
    We had the likes of O’Reilly 22 odd years ago telling people how to vote on the day
    of the Election, just because community groups were an obstacle to his MMDS
    Franchise, so if he set the example, what are the rest them at……?

  4. Tea And Brexits

    This is not a freedom of speech issue. It’s not like The Currency crowd are coming to the table with clean hands.

  5. Mr.Fart

    varadkar believes in free speech so much that a while he ago he wanted to control public comments on social media.

Comments are closed.