Friday 9 December 2016

GSOC's threat to press freedom

Published 17/01/2016 | 02:30

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

A free press is part of a larger right of the freedom of expression and is, therefore, something to be jealously preserved and guarded.

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Last week it emerged that the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has interviewed two senior garda officers and is seeking to question a third after their telephone numbers were found on the mobile phone records of two journalists. Of the three officers, two were sanctioned to speak to the media at the time. It has also emerged that GSOC and the gardai are carrying out at least seven investigations related to the work of journalists, and how they sourced their information.

GSOC has been dogged by controversy and is particularly linked in the public mind to an embarrassing episode centred on unsubstantiated claims it was being bugged. It has done little to rehabilitate its reputation as a watchdog, just as it has done little to rehabilitate the reputation of the Garda Siochana at a time when the force, its role within the justice system and the system itself has been under intense scrutiny.

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