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Gardaí say TDs are allowed to make 'unfounded, unsubstantiated and malicious allegations'

Should politicians be allowed to say what they want in the Dáil and Seanad?

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

GARDA SERGEANTS AND Inspectors have said that the system of parliamentary privilege should be reconsidered.

Writing in, Deputy General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, John Jacob claims there is not the same need for the privileges as when they were established in the 1920s.

Specifically referring to politicians’ immunity to defamation suits, he noted:

“This privilege allows TDs to make unfounded, unsubstantiated or malicious allegations against any member of the public without fear of having to defend the statement.”

Jacobs added that a person’s good name can be tarnished by being referred to by a TD in the Dáil, even if the Ceann Comhairle asks for it to be removed from the record.

The opinion piece has been written following comments made by Mick Wallace during a debate on 3 October this year. He made serious allegations against a named member of An Garda Síochána, which have remained on the record.

Jacobs believes that the Ceann Comhairle failed to protect the rights of ordinary citizens by failing to have his name removed from the record.

“The reality of today’s digital media world means that not only is this allegation alive on the record of the Dáil but it is imprinted on websites, social networking sites, discussion forums and online news media websites for now and forever,” he writes.

Concluding, he asks for parliamentary privileges extended to TDs and Senators to be examined as part of this government’s planned Constitutional reform agenda.

Opinion: Parliamentary privileges extended to TDs and Senators should be reconsidered

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