Taoiseach hints at new legislation to help protect journalistic sources

By Elaine Loughlin, Political Reporter

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have both defended the importance of protecting journalistic sources today, stating legislation may need to be reformed on the area.

It comes as it was revealed that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) trawled the phone records of a number of national print journalists.

The phone records were accessed without the knowledge of those involved as part of an investigation into alleged garda leaks to the media regarding the death of model Katy French.

Speaking at an Action Plan for Jobs 2016 announcement this afternoon, Joan Burton confirmed that Justice Minister will deliver a report on the matter to Government tomorrow.

Reacting to the revelations that GSOC accessed the phone records of a number of journalists Enda Kenny said: “Clearly the fundamental principal of journalistic sources being confidential is very important in any democracy.

“This case as I understand refers to an issue of a number of years ago as I understand, but Minister Fitzgerald is looking at this on the basis of protection of the sources of information of journalists in a free world with a free press and there is a difference here between this particular type of incident and one where national security might arise, so the Minister will respond appropriately and quickly on this regard.

“Fundamentally I think where issues like this are concerned, that it would be appropriate that the legislation must be reformed to reflect that because whatever else people argue about, there has always been a consistency about the protection of sources of information for members of the press in a democracy like ours,” Mr Kenny said.

Ms Burton added: “The issue is an important issue, I understand it goes back to events in 2007 and we will get a report on it.

“But I think it goes without saying that the protection of journalistic sources is of critical and primary importance and the government will address that.”

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