Tuesday 23 January 2018

Legal concerns force council to drop webcast

Gordon Deegan

A council has dropped plans to show meetings on the internet because of legal concerns and after learning similar schemes have been a turn-off elsewhere.

Clare County Council members heard the live proceedings of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown meetings on the internet attract on average only 35 viewers.

Senior council official Michael McNamara said that those who accessed the archive of council proceedings at Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown was in the region of 235 per month.

Mr McNamara said: "These are the statistics from a local authority area with a a population of 194,000 and where access to broadband is more readily available."

The council was also told that to webcast meetings, it would cost €25,000 per annum.

In response to fears that councillors may lack a defence if they were accused of slander, the local authority recommended that it did not proceed.

In a memo, county solicitor John Shaw said: "From a strictly legal point of view, it is not in my view advisable that the local authority would broadcast their meetings."

Mr Shaw pointed out that councillors had qualified privilege as opposed to absolute privilege enjoyed by members in the Oireachtas.

Irish Independent

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