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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 16 April, 2014

David Norris to lodge Seanad complaint over media treatment

David Norris says he has been subjected to abusive media tactics similar to those being discussed at the UK’s Leveson Inquiry.

David Norris says he has been subjected to some of the same aggressive media tactics that are currently being discussed at the UK's Leveson Inquiry.
David Norris says he has been subjected to some of the same aggressive media tactics that are currently being discussed at the UK's Leveson Inquiry.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

DAVID NORRIS says he is to lodge a formal complaint over his treatment by some aspects of the media – saying he has been subjected to treatment similar to that discussed by high-profile figures in the UK.

Norris today said he be lodging a complaint with the Seanad’s committee on Procedures and Privileges, saying it was his “own direct personal experience” that the tactics being investigated by the UK’s Leveson inquiry had been replicated by staff working for Irish titles.

Speaking during the Seanad order of business, Norris discussed allegations brought against British media at the inquiry – which include voicemail hacking, blackmail, the “hounding of various well-known people” and the “bullying of those who seek to question those practices”.

Norris said he knew from his own experience that Irish publications were “certainly engaging in these practices, to my absolute knowledge.”

The Irish sister titles of some British newspapers, Norris alleged, continued to act in ways which were now considered unacceptable in Britain – with the Senator saying those papers “regard us as a colony” of Britain.

Norris asked the Seanad leader Maurice Cummins to arrange a debate with the communications minister Pat Rabbitte on media behaviour in Ireland.

The calls were also backed by Fianna Fáil senators Ned O’Sullivan and Labhrás Ó Murchú, independent senator Feargal Quinn and Fine Gael’s Catherine Noone.

Noone said some aspects of the media “think they are a power” and that an opportunity was needed “to ask them who they think they are”.

O’Sullivan also named one newspaper who he felt had been particularly aggressive towards a specific candidate in the days running up to the Presidential election, adding his name to calls for a debate on media practice.

Other senators condemned the recent developments regarding the defamation proceedings of Fr Kevin Reynolds, with Professor John Crown calling for statutory bodies like RTÉ not to be privy to “gagging” procedures where details of a legal settlement could not be disclosed.

Fine Gael’s Michael Mullins saying he had “reason to believe” that a second person, since deceased, had been defamed by the same episode of RTÉ’s Prime Time.

Cummins said he would seek to arrange a time where Rabbitte could attend the house to hold a debate on media activity and ownership.

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