Norris calls for Irish inquiry into media

Wed, Nov 23, 2011, 00:00
JIMMY WALSH

SEANAD REPORT: CLAIMING THE Irish media were engaging in the type of wrongful practices of which the British media had been accused at the Leveson Inquiry, David Norris (Ind) said he had been told by a newspaper editor that recent negative treatment of him was a “payback” for activity that he believed he had himself properly conducted as an elected member of the House.
He would be making a complaint about this to the Seanad Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP) and he hoped it would be treated as a matter of extreme seriousness and urgency.
Mr Norris recalled that he had, over many years, intervened to protect the right to privacy of citizens against inappropriate media intrusion. He had spoken on the defamation Bill, with assistance from Senator Jim Walsh of Fianna Fáil, and they had occasioned the withdrawal of the original Bill.
He expected his parliamentary colleagues to stand by him in complaining to the CPP, “particularly in the light of the remarks of Lord Leveson, when he said he was aware of the fact that witnesses and potential witnesses, including members of parliament, felt threatened about the possibility of further exposure and delving into their private lives should they dare to give evidence”.
Seeking an examination of the way the media operated here, Mr Norris said the British media regarded it as appropriate to behave here in a way they would no longer do so in Britain, because they regarded Ireland as a colony.
Labhrás Ó Murchú (FF) said Mr Norris had demonstrated courage on many occasions. He had always been consistent on the matter of human rights, privacy and similar issues. The concerns he had now raised should be taken seriously.
In the long run, Mr Ó Murchú added, he was doing a favour, not just to the House but to journalism and the freedom of the media.
Ned O’Sullivan (FF) said he agreed with Mr Norris about the need for an overall review of the media here.
“I have to say that the whole media handling of the presidential election was a thundering disgrace, to quote an infamous comment from someone else.”
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