Sunday 11 December 2016

Matters of public interest and privilege

Published 02/06/2015 | 02:30

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD, pictured launching the results of the pilot We Can Quit programme, has insisted politicians should be free of legal restrictions when speaking in the Dáil (Andres Poveda)
Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD, pictured launching the results of the pilot We Can Quit programme, has insisted politicians should be free of legal restrictions when speaking in the Dáil (Andres Poveda)

Claims that free speech is being challenged to the extent that it may precipitate a constitutional crisis have dominated the headlines in recent days. On one side, you have a powerful businessman and media owner seeking to keep his banking arrangements private. On the other, you have a member of the Dáil using Dáil privilege to put these matters on the public record.

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So you have two sets of competing rights and a standing army of commentators insisting that they know with certainty where the public interest lies.

Yet quite clearly there is confusion, judging by the clarion call for answers. What matters above all else is that there is absolute clarity.

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