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'I believe in a free press': Taoiseach says he doesn't condone Communicorp ban on certain Irish journalists

The Currency reporters are the latest Irish journalists to be banned from O’Brien-owned stations.

A number of journalists have been banned from appearing on Denis O'Brien stations.
A number of journalists have been banned from appearing on Denis O'Brien stations.
Image: Press Association

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he does not agree with journalists being banned from Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp stations. 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called on Varadkar to join in writing a letter stating his position that he does not condone the banning of certain journalists on the radio stations. 

Management at Communicorp wrote to staff last Wednesday to ask them not to invite any journalists from news website The Currency onto any of the group’s stations, including TodayFM and Newstalk. 

The site’s editor Ian Kehoe had been due to appear on TodayFM’s The Last Word programme to discuss an article published on the new site about the finances of Sean Quinn and his family.

Earlier this year, Denis O’Brien lost a legal case he took against the Sunday Business Post over newspaper articles written by Lyons and published when Kehoe was editor. 

There is no indication that O’Brien had any involvement with the email sent from Communicorp management to staff. 

Replying to Ryan, the Taoiseach thanked him for raising the issue, adding that he agreed with the Green Party leader. 

“My sentiments are the same as his on this matter. I believe in free speech and I believe in a free press.  I do not believe anyone should be banned from the airwaves - journalists or citizens – except for very good reasons.  

“Those reasons should be something like incitement to hatred but I do not think that anyone should be banned from the radio, the TV or from any publication solely based on who is his or her employer,” said the Taoiseach. 

Ryan asked Varadkar to join the other groupings in the House in writing a letter to Communicorp asking it to reverse the decision in both cases and to stand up for press freedom.  

“I would be happy to join the deputy in that,” said Varadkar.

Almost two years ago, the CEO of Communicorp wrote to staff to inform them journalists from the Irish Times will not be appearing on any of the group’s stations. That ban remains in place. 

Communicorp also owns Dublin’s 98FM and Spin 1038.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has said it will not intervene in the matter, saying it is a “long-established principle that a decision about who should be invited or not invited to appear on Irish radio or television programmes is solely a matter for individual media providers”.

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