Leinster House, Dublin 2
Catherine Murphy (right), with Roisin Shoirthall her co-leader in the Social Democrats, and Pearse Doherty (above left) with Sinn Féin colleagues from left: Rose Conway-Walsh, Mary Lou McDonald TD and Eoin Ó Broin TD speaking to the media after businessman Denis O’Brien lost his appeal to the Supreme Court over statements made in the Dáil about his banking affairs.
From top: Denis O’Brien; Justices of the Supreme Court in NUI Galway today; Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty; Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy
Obviously delighted with today’s Supreme Court ruling which reinforces decision of both CPP & High Court that myself & @PearseDoherty did NOT abuse parliamentary privilege.
— Catherine Murphy (@CathMurphyTD) March 5, 2019
— Pearse Doherty (@PearseDoherty) March 5, 2019
The Supreme Court (sitting in Galway).
Denis O’Brien has lost his Supreme Court challenge against a failed legal action in relation to statements made in the Dáil about his banking affairs.
The businessman claimed the two TDs in question were guilty of an “unwarranted interference” with the operation of the courts.
Mr O’Brien’s High Court action arose from remarks made by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy under privilege on the floor of the Dáil during a debate in 2015 about the sale of SiteServ.
By revealing details about his dealings with the IBRC, he claimed the two deputies effectively decided a separate case that was before the courts.
An injunction was in place at the time in relation to an RTÉ programme.
Catherine Murphy said:
“The CPP found that I had not abused parliamentary privilege in making a speech which was very squarely within the public interest and that I acted in good faith at all times. I am pleased that both the High Court and now the Supreme Court have upheld that decision.
Whilst I am pleased that the courts have recognised the constitutional protections afforded to those of us who may find ourselves in the position of having to use parliamentary privilege for a matter of public interest, it is hugely incumbent on us, as elected representatives, to recognise that such privilege must only be exercised with great responsibility.
The public interest must always be to the fore and that is what has underpinned everything I have done to date.”
Following the Supreme Court’s decision and further to a High Court jury dismissing claims by Mr O’Brien last Friday that March 2015 articles about him in the Sunday Business Post were defamatory…
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One:
“I think this is a big week for freedom of parliament and parliamentary debate but also a big week for freedom of the press and, you know, I’ve thought about this over the last couple of days.
“If both the judgement against the Sunday Business Post and now against the House of the Oireachtas went the other way – there would be a serious chilling effect in relation to what could be said, both in the press and on the floor of the Dáil in future.
“And I think remember as well, Seán, during this time, there was a period, during this time, when both Catherine Murphy and myself were putting information on the public record, that the press themselves were questioning whether they could report that information.
“So this judgement today makes it very, very clear, if anything good comes from this judgement: it is the fact that parliamentary privilege is sacrosanct, it cannot be tested before the courts.
“The decisions of the CPP in determining whether a deputy or a senator has abused parliamentary privilege cannot be tested before the courts. And that now clarifies it.
“And there’s an onus on us, as elected representatives, to use that privilege very, very selectively, in which we do. As I said, I had other information in relation to Denis O’Brien that I didn’t put on the public record.
“And indeed we have information that is given to us, and I welcome information like that, that is of a highly sensitive and confidential nature, that we decided not to put on the public record because it’s viewed by us not in the public interest and would be, in our view, an abuse of parliamentary privilege.”
Listen back in full here
From the judgment. Clear, compelling, well-reasoned. pic.twitter.com/VdLHpOryY4
— David Kenny (@davidkenny311) March 5, 2019
Read the 42-page judgement in full here
Thanks David Kenny
Top Pic: NUI Galway
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