Latest: Dáil lawyers begin defence of Denis O'Brien legal action

Update 4.30pm: Lawyers for the Dáil have begun their defence of a legal action taken by Denis O’Brien over remarks made by two deputies about his banking affairs.

The businessman claims they trespassed into the judicial domain by revealing information that was protected by a High Court order.

Michael Collins, who is representing the Dáil, told Judge Úna Ní Raifeartaigh that she was being asked to examine the statements made by Deputies Catherine Murphy and Pearse Doherty – something he claims is one of the fundamental things the court cannot do.

He also said there was no power to force deputies to explain utterances made under privilege.

Before Mr Collins began his defence, the court heard from Denis O’Brien – who spent an hour and 20 minutes in the witness box.

He said it was important for court orders to be obeyed and accused Deputy Murphy of flagrantly breaching an injunction preventing the reporting of his banking affairs with the IBRC and described it as an abuse of privilege.

He said it would be a “pretty extraordinary situation” if every citizen was subject to having their confidential details disclosed in such a way.

The hearing will resume tomorrow.

Update 3pm: Denis O’Brien has accused Deputies Catherine Murphy and Pearse Doherty of disrespecting the High Court by “unravelling” a court-imposed injunction.

He made the comment while giving evidence at his legal action against the Dáil over comments the TDs made in the chamber last year.

Denis O’Brien claims comments made by Deputies Murphy and Doherty in May and June last year effectively determined the outcome of a case he was taking against RTÉ about his personal banking affairs.

During his direct evidence, he outlined the importance of obeying a court order, but said it was even more important that it not be interfered with through the public release of information in the Oireachtas two miles away.

He said he received death threats after the details were released, and while he often received nasty communications, he said they were never anything of that nature.

Under cross-examination, he described the deputies' remarks as a “flagrant breach of the injunction” and said the use of debate time to open up information that had been stolen from him and ventilate the way they did was an abuse of the absolute privilege enjoyed by politicians on the floor of the Dáil.

As a citizen, he said he just wanted to know whether one can rely on a court order or whether someone can get up in the Dáil and unravel it.

The hearing continues.


Denis O'Brien claims he and his family received death threats after details of his banking affairs with the IBRC were revealed in the Dáil last year.

The businessman has been giving evidence on the third day of his legal action against the Dáil and its Committee on Procedures and Privilege.

He is seeking a number of declarations after Deputies Catherine Murphy and Pearse Doherty disclosed the information while a court order was in place.

He claims the injunction, restricting RTÉ from broadcasting the details, should have been upheld by the TDs.

Under cross-examination, he said he took this legal action to ensure this never happens again – to him or any Irish citizen.

By revealing his personal banking affairs with IBRC, he claims they trespassed on the judicial domain and effectively determined the outcome of legal proceedings against RTÉ.

From the stand, he said this case was important for the country as a whole and compared a person’s bank details with their medical records.

He described threats to his life and those of his family after the revelations were made.

Under cross-examination, he said he just wants the court to determine whether one can rely on a court order, or whether someone can get up in the Dáil and deliberately unravel that.

The hearing is expected to go on for another four or five days.

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