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RTÉ to make High Court bid to report Denis O'Brien statements


Catherine Murphy

Catherine Murphy

Catherine Murphy

RTÉ will return to the High Court on Tuesday seeking the right to report contested Dáil statements about the financial affairs of businessman Denis O'Brien.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night rejected demands to re-call the Dáil for a special debate on the dispute over comments made by Independent TD Catherine Murphy relating to Mr O'Brien and IBRC bank.

The High Court has already ruled that RTÉ cannot report on aspects of Mr O'Brien's business dealings with the IBRC.

But the broadcaster will now return to court to make an application for permission to report what Ms Murphy said under privilege in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin had urged Mr Kenny to change the Dáil schedule, which includes no sittings next week, to hold a debate on the issue.

The High Court has already ruled that RTÉ cannot report on aspects of Mr O'Brien's private business dealings with the IBRC.

On Thursday, Ms Murphy gave what she said were details of this matter under Dáil privilege.

Mr O'Brien said the information given in the Dáil was false and was also prohibited by the High Court ruling, given on May 21.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the issue can be discussed when the Dáil returns on Tuesday, June 9.

"We are as concerned as everyone else about the issues of parliamentary privilege and freedom of speech.

"But we must not be seen to be interfering in court processes which are still in train," the spokesman said.

"Anyone who wants to discuss the issues will be facilitated when the Dáil returns," the Taoiseach's spokesman added.

A spokesman for Mr O'Brien said he was entitled to his good name and privacy relating to his financial affairs in the same way as any citizen.

The spokesman, James Morrissey, told RTÉ radio this was a core principle of any democracy and applied inside and outside the Dáil.

"There had always been a separation of powers. But a fundamental and core principle of a democracy is the right of every individual to their good name and reputation and privacy in matters that are private," he said.

Ms Murphy said she was using her democratic mandate to put information into the public domain and pose further questions.

RTÉ said they will need more clarity on the original High Court judgement and will be making an application for permission to broadcast Ms Murphy's Dáil statements.

Irish Independent