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Dublin: 16°C Tuesday 16 August 2022

RTÉ will seek permission to broadcast Catherine Murphy Dáil comments

There are now growing calls for the Dáil to be recalled next week.

Updated 6.40pm

PastedImage-50472 Source: PA Wire

RTÉ HAS SAID it is going to court to apply for permission to broadcast statements the independent TD Catherine Murphy has made about Denis O’Brien and his business dealings with IBRC next week.

The broadcaster has issued a statement this evening in the wake of Murphy making a number of statements in the Dáil yesterday regarding businessman O’Brien’s dealings with IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank.

O’Brien’s legal team has warned reporters that publishing the comments would be a potential breach of a temporary High Court injunction that was obtained last week.

A statement from the broadcaster said: “RTÉ is on record expressing its disappointment at the original court injunction of 21 May preventing the media coverage of this issue. RTÉ has consistently maintained that greater levels of disclosure is in the public interest; however we have complied fully with the court’s decision.

“We await the outcome of the judge’s ruling on 5 June as regards what level of detail in the court’s judgement can be disclosed. Lawyers acting on behalf of RTÉ have already raised concern about the scope of the proposed orders to be made by the court.

“RTÉ will also be making an application on Tuesday 2 June, for permission to broadcast statements made in the Dáil by Catherine Murphy, TD.

“Every effort will continue to be made by RTÉ to report on this matter as comprehensively as possible, as early as possible, within the limits of the law.”

The Irish Times said this evening it would also be seeking clarity in the High Court on Tuesday.

No communication

Earlier, Murphy, a TD for Kildare North, said she has received no contact from O’Brien’s legal representatives following the remarks made on the Dáil record yesterday afternoon.

And she told this morning that she will continue “to question situations” she believes to be of specific interest to the Irish taxpayer.

O’Brien’s legal team has warned reporters that publishing those comments would be a potential breach of a temporary High Court injunction.

“To our knowledge, to date, we have had no communications regarding the issue [from Denis O'Brien's legal team],” Murphy told this morning.

Murphy claimed the information she disclosed in the chamber came from “several, reliable sources”. O’Brien claimed in a statement yesterday that the information is false and amounts to an abuse of Dáil privilege.

Murphy continued:

“As a parliamentarian I will always endeavour to question situations where there is an involvement and specific interest of the Irish people and their money. IBRC is State owned therefore it is the Irish people’s money at stake. I will continue to do my job as mandated. I will continue my duties as a parliamentarian as normal. Why wouldn’t I?”

Lawyers acting on O’Brien’s behalf claimed the details released by Murphy in the Dáil were covered by an existing temporary injunction obtained by O’Brien in the High Court against RTÉ.

A spokesperson for the Houses of the Oireachtas said this morning they published transcripts of yesterday’s proceedings “in the normal manner”. When asked specifically if the Houses of the Oireachtas had taken legal advice before publishing, the spokesperson said, “We don’t take legal advice when we publish material.”

Murphy said she had been “overwhelmed” by emails, tweets, calls and messages of support in the wake of her comments yesterday.

A statement issued on behalf of O’Brien last night claimed that Murphy had abused Dáil privilege and made “false and untruthful statements”.

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In her own statement a short time later, Murphy said: ”I am a public representative. Information came to me, from a number or reliable sources, that is, without doubt, in the public interest.” She added that she would not be “intimidated or distracted” from her role.

Political pressure

There are growing calls from opposition politicians for the Dáil to be recalled over the issue next week. The House is in recess, but Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has written to the Taoiseach asking that the government recall TDs.

He added: “The government should also immediately seek clarification from the Attorney General on the rights of Oireachtas members in respect of Dáil privilege and the media in reporting this.”

Adams was echoing calls from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Renua’s Lucinda Creighton over the past 24 hours.

Creighton said the Dáil “cannot go on holidays for 12 days” in the circumstances.

James Morrissey, an advisor to Denis O’Brien, dismissed this call from the Fianna Fáil leader and from Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke as “a bit rich”.

Spokespersons for the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have so far not commented on the matter.

However, the government confirmed this evening that TDs will not be recalled from recess next week.

More: Denis O’Brien has blocked the broadcast of an RTÉ news story about him

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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