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More on the O’Brien/Murphy ‘you can’t say that’ controversy… May 30, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

From Michael McDowell in the Irish Times today pointing to a massive contradiction at the heart of this and underlining just how pernicious the curtailing of parliamentary privilege is:

We now also have the ridiculous situation in which O’Brien’s spokesman uses the airwaves to condemn Deputy Murphy for “peddling lies” in the Dáil but listeners are not told what her allegation is and are in no position to judge for themselves whether the spokesman’s strident condemnation is itself true or not. That is pathetic and ludicrous.

And good sense here:

Deputy Murphy’s speech was firmly grounded in the public domain; it did not concern the private, intimate, domestic borrowings or banking affairs of just anyone or just any businessman. The nature of her concerns and their scale in my view takes the matter well outside the “private” in the personal sense of that term. If her remarks concerned a company’s affairs, no one would see them as in any way “private”, even though many companies are private.

The size of an individual’s business banking relations may be of such an order as takes them far outside the scope of citizen “privacy” rights protected by the Constitution. In that area, “size matters”.


We are in dangerous territory where the alleged privacy rights of the powerful call into question the freedom of speech of our parliamentarians and of the citizens’ right to know of such matters, and seem to cast doubt on the efficacy of Article 15.12 of our Constitution.

Fair dues.

One thing that is evident is just how absurd all this is. McDowell’s use of the term ludicrous is spot on, and it’s something that has to be said again and again, because it is one very clear means to undermine the toxicity of the processes we have seen over the last week. All this is – obviously – useful, in terms of underlining the manner in which power is distributed and exercised in this society.


1. Dan Turpin - May 30, 2015

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

Liked by 1 person

2. Michael Carley - May 30, 2015

GUBU lives.

Liked by 1 person

3. fergal - May 30, 2015

A while back here I asked if the constitution trumps all law wise and can’t remember which poster confirmed that it does…..recent events would suggest otherwise, woud they not? We’ll find out on Tuesday- a High Court injunction seems to be trumping the Constitution…


RosencrantzisDead - May 30, 2015

The issue is more whether the constitutional protection extends to reports of Oireachtas debates.

There is no doubt that Murphy and the Oireachtas are, on the face of it, completely immune from suit. However, the protection for third parties is not explicit in the Constitution. Third party protection has always been presumed to exist, however.

The difficulty here is that RTE and most other media outlets are extremely cautious. O’Brien’s win for libel a few years ago (and the rather generous payout the jury gave him) has frightened more than a few. And you can guarantee that there are no queues of editors looking to chance exposing their organisation to massive legal cost and possible imprisonment.


CMK - May 30, 2015

An editor getting a spell in the Joy might bring the whole issue into rather sharper relief. If O’Brien prevails on this one, he’ll be back for more, as will the other oligarchs.


fergal - May 30, 2015

Sounds like we need a whole new fourth estate, or new libel laws?


CMK - May 30, 2015

‘One solution! Revolution!’ 🙂


WorldbyStorm - May 30, 2015

Nah, RTÉ and the IT and all the other mainstream media wouldn’t report it 😉


Gewerkschaftler - June 1, 2015

“… will not be televised!”


RosencrantzisDead - May 30, 2015

We need to get rid of, or heavily qualify, the ‘right to a good name’ that we enshrined in our Constitution. Either that or we get a Supreme Court who decides that such a right needs to be subordinate to an open and working political sphere.

I would not hold out for the latter.

However, the court order in question had to do with issues of privacy rather than libel. With libel, there would have been more of issue with ‘prior restraint’.


Gewerkschaftler - June 1, 2015

Very interesting that ‘a good name’ is put on a level with other rights like that of the right to life. But property rights are mentioned in the same clause.

It says a lot about the social and political attitudes from which the constitution stemmed.

A lot needs updating in that document, not just the institutional misogyny.

But constitutions are not for ever – they can and do get replaced.


shea - June 2, 2015

is the bit where o brien was reported as asking for a low interest rate or got a low interest rate from his bank the attack on his ‘good name’ not getting his or the judges angle on this.

is it resource war stuff, who ever has the deepest pockets and can drag a case out wins?

would like to see that go myself.


4. Dan Turpin - May 30, 2015

Speaking of financial privacy:

Irish Farmers Association angry over publication of EU payments to farmers


“Mr Downey claimed that it is a breach of confidentiality in respect of personal financial data and has called for farmers to be advised when someone is checking into their data.

The information however is required to be published under EU rules because it is EU taxpayers money.”

And the difference between His Dobness and the farmers, and the use of taxpayers money is….?


fergal - May 30, 2015

I suppose one difference is we can see exactly who’s getting what from the EU farm payments, it’s on every website- there’s evenn a top ten! Whereas, Dinny’s subsidies remain in the private sphere protected by a court injunction, a cowardly press and an indifferent government.
I also suspect that many of the small farmers actually work for a living- and get less than the ranchers form the EU- whereas the High Court protected one….?


5. Michael Carley - May 31, 2015

Someone has leaked a letter from O’Brien to Murphy before it was delivered to Murphy:



6. Starkadder - June 1, 2015

Is anyone brave enough to read out Murphy’s speech in
a public location like a park to a crowd?


Dr. X - June 1, 2015

I have been wondering that very thing myself. On a related (but hypothetical) note, if members of the diaspora were to send this speech to ‘auld sod’ via electronic mail, might they expose themselves, or their correspondents, to legal embarassment?


que - June 2, 2015

An interesting phenomenon has been the sharing of this across social media. It’s not full coverage but more persons have seen it then otherwise would.


7. Michael Carley - June 1, 2015

From Plashing Vole, Cromwell’s Licensing Order

It is therefore Ordered by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, That no Order or Declaration of both, or either House of Parliament shall be printed by any, but by order of one or both the said Houses: Nor other Book, Pamphlet, paper, nor part of any such Book, Pamphlet, or paper, shall from henceforth be printed, bound, stitched or put to sale by any person or persons whatsoever, unlesse the same be first approved of and licensed under the hands of such person or persons as both, or either of the said Houses shall appoint for the licensing of the same, and entred in the Register Book of the Company of Stationers, according to Ancient custom, and the Printer therof to put his name thereto.

to which we can now add “unlesse the same be first approved of and licensed under the hands of #redacted”.



8. CL - June 1, 2015

This is about freedom of expression.

“In a turn of phrase destined to become the most celebrated line in First Amendment history, Justice Brennan boldly declared: “[W]e consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials” (emphasis added). With those 44 words Brennan captured the essence of freedom of expression, a principle born out of centuries of struggle. ”



9. ivorthorne - June 2, 2015

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