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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Editor says local newspaper 'suppressed' by garda seizure of his phone in Strokestown investigation

It was agreed that information would not be accessed from the phone pending High Court proceedings.

Fire at the property in Falsk, Co Roscommon.
Fire at the property in Falsk, Co Roscommon.
Image: The Democrat

THE EDITOR OF a midlands newspaper has said the publication has been “suppressed” after his phone was seized by gardaí investigating the much-publicised December Strokestown eviction.

Emmett Corcoran returned to the High Court this morning after an injunction was granted yesterday preventing gardaí from accessing information on the phone.

The case will return before Justice Seamus Noonan next week but an agreement has been reached in which gardaí will not attempt to access information in the interim.

The judge also said today that this undertaking would continue until the proceedings are determined.

The terms of the agreement state that the phone will be retained by the Garda Commissioner or by an officer designated by him in garda headquarters in Phoenix Park.

The agreement also states that no attempt will be made to gather information from the phone pending the end of High Court proceedings.

Corcoran is seeking that his phone be returned to him and said that the temporary agreement is not ideal but that he must accept it.

The journalist had been covering the incident in Falsk, Strokestown, Co Roscommon on 16 December 2018 in which a number of vehicles were set alight and three people were injured.

The property in question had recently been repossessed and security personnel were guarding it at the time.

After the incident, The Democrat published a video and post on its Facebook page showing vehicles on fire at the property and providing details about what had happened.

Urgent

Michael McDowell SC for Corcoran argued this morning that the case be dealt with urgently because his client requires his phone to operate the business.

McDowell said that “people’s office is almost in their phone” because of how it holds contact details and other important information.

He suggested that, pending the outcome of the proceedings, methods be examined to transfer information from Corcoran’s phone to another device.

Counsel for the Garda Commissioner said that they were open to examining the potential for this to happen.

They also said that they would “do our very best” to have an affidavit prepared before next week but that “a number of issues” have to be assessed and that they could therefore not guarantee that they would have a statement of position at that point.

Justice Noonan said the matter would be adjourned for a week with the hope that the statement could be delivered.

The judge noted that the current High Court term ends next week and that he was “not really sure of the reality of this getting dealt with urgently”.

Speaking after the hearing, Corcoran said that he and the paper have already been severely disrupted by the seizure of his phone.

The editor said that the paper missed a print deadline as a result of yesterday’s disruption.

“The State has essentially suppressed the publication of our paper,” he told TheJournal.ie.

Corcoran also said that he was awoken by gardaí yesterday who produced a warrant and said they were there to seize his phone. He also said he had been receiving medical treatment in the hospital the day previous.

Corcoran is also seeking an order quashing the search warrant.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing

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Rónán Duffy

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