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TD calls for cameras to be allowed in Irish courts

Fine Gael backbencher Patrick O’Donovan has asked the Justice Minister to consider limited broadcasting of court proceedings.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

FINE GAEL BACKBENCHER Patrick O’Donovan has asked the Minister for Justice to consider allowing cameras in Irish courts.

The Limerick TD posed the question as similar moves are being looked at in England and Wales.

“I think it is time that we consider permitting limited camera access to the Irish court system,” he said.

What O’Donovan is proposing does not include the televising of evidence from witnesses or victim impact statements.

“It will not lead to a free for all; cameras will not be allowed to film victims, witnesses, defendants or juries. The new system will only be permitted in the Court of Appeal, with the possibility of later expanding it to other courts,” he said.

We should be doing all we can to de-mystify the legal system and make it more accessible to the public. Justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done.

O’Donovan says the proposal deserves serious consideration and he has tabled it as a parliamentary question.

The Courts Service told TheJournal.ie that it was not aware of any formal proposals put forward in relation to allowing cameras into courtrooms.

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Background

The idea of broadcasting court proceedings has been debated in Ireland previously but has not been considered for almost 20 years.

Back in the early 1990s, the Law Reform Commission published a consultation paper which commented on the matter. The Commission actually recommended allowing limited use of cameras in courtrooms and suggested a pilot scheme be arranged.

In its study, the Commission said it considered that arguments were “sufficiently strong” to recommend an advisory committee be established to review the arrangements for the recording and broadcasting of court proceedings by the media.

The report, however, was written in 1994 just before the O.J. Simpson case was televised. The idea was put on the back burner since as many thought the 1995 murder trial was ‘over-televised’.

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