Shatter: We must avoid American mistakes when broadcasting live trials

Shatter: We must avoid American mistakes when broadcasting live trials

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter says we need to be careful about bringing cameras into our courts.

Mr Shatter has warned that Ireland needs to avoid American mistakes as it airs live trials for the first time ever today.

Two cases in the Supreme Court are being broadcast live this morning.

However, Alan Shatter said the coverage needed to be strictly regulated.

He said: "We don't need and we don't want and we shouldn't adopt the American system where at the end of each day's trial, lawyers may be holding press conferences to spin their version of events, but I do think there is room and public interest in greater access to the court."

TV cameras are being allowed into the Supreme Court today to record proceedings.

It is the first time ever that an Irish court sitting has been filmed.

Two judgements, to be handed down by the Supreme Court will be broadcast by RTÉ.

The Chief Justice says the move is to help demystify the courts, and coverage may be expanded next year.

The proceedings will be broadcast live on the RTÉ News Now app and on news from 9.30am.

Coverage can be seen here.

In a statement on the broadcast, the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Clarke said: "We are taking the step of televising the judgments of the Supreme Court, as a way of demystifying the courts process.

"We wish to allow people see how their highest court operates. This will help explain and create an understanding of the courts.

"This is a start ,and following a test period, we will review the success of same with a view to expanding coverage in the new year. This might include televising the parties making their arguments in the Supreme Court".

Jon Williams, Managing Director, RTÉ News & Current Affairs said: "It's vital that justice is not just done, but is seen to be done. So we welcome the Chief Justice's decision to allow RTÉ's cameras into the Supreme Court - and hope it will enable the public to see the way justice is delivered in an even more open and transparent manner than at present."

Because judgments of the Supreme Court are handed down and not read, except for the principal conclusions, the proceedings are not expected to be lengthy.

Although cameras were previously admitted to the Supreme Court on a small number of occasions, including to record a speech by the former Chief Justice Susan Denham marking the establishment of the Court of Appeal, this is the first time cameras have been permitted to record court proceedings.

Subject to the consent of the judiciary and Courts Service, the broadcast may lead to future live broadcasts, including of the actual hearing of appeals in the Supreme Court. Because the Supreme Court is an appellate court, it does not hear evidence.

There may also be potential for broadcasts of proceedings before the Court of Appeal and perhaps the High and Circuit Courts.

The live broadcasting of court proceedings has been discussed for years but the impetus for the development has been attributed to a meeting about five years ago between then Chief Justice Denham and then RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst.

RTÉ Head of News Jon Williams, who was previously involved while working with the BBC in a project to televise the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, has also been very supportive.

Since his appointment as Chief Justice last July, Mr Justice Clarke has been keen to advance the project and his active involvement and support was a crucial factor.

The project has presented considerable technical challenges as the Four Courts is an old building not well equipped to deal with 21st century technology.

This first broadcast will involve four cameras and substantial cabling.

It is hoped any teething problems can be addressed over a short period and future broadcasts may be possible via broadband technology.

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