Tuesday 21 November 2017

Minister rules out complaint over St Stephen's Day report

Michael Brennan and Breda Heffernan

THE Finance Minister has said he will not make an official complaint about TV3's controversial decision to broadcast details of his cancer diagnosis on St Stephen's Day.

Brian Lenihan yesterday made it clear that he would have preferred to have kept the news private over the Christmas period, but opted to strike a conciliatory tone about the matter.

"I'm sure it's an issue on which journalists and media organisations will reflect on themselves. It's a bit like politics, journalism -- the only rule appears to be that there are no rules," he said.

Mr Lenihan said he was not looking for the Press Ombudsman to investigate the matter (even though this body would not have jurisdiction over a television broadcast) and made no mention of complaining to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (which does have jurisdiction).

He said he had put the "TV3 issue" behind him and was "not that concerned about it in a personal sense".

But he did question the decision of TV3 News to broadcast news of his diagnosis on St Stephen's Day rather than waiting until the new year.

He said he had been able to inform his wife and children about his condition before the broadcast, but not all of the "wider Lenihan family".

"It is in the public interest that people know the state of health of the Minister for Finance and I quite accept that.

"On the other hand, I would question whether there was any real public interest served in disclosing it on St Stephen's D ay as distinct from January 4," he said.

The controversy has raised fears among civil liberties groups that the Government will now try to revive its proposed Privacy Bill to restrict media reporting.

Irish Independent

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