NewsBrands Ireland say 'the sources and privacy of journalists' is not adequately protected

The body representing national newspapers in Ireland yesterday said the Irish legislative framework “breaches” European law as it fails to adequately protect “the sources and privacy of journalists”.

In a statement, NewsBrands Ireland said it would be making a submission to the review announced by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists yesterday met three commissioners who head the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and sought clarity as to the procedures it uses to seek the phone and internet data records of journalists.

NewsBrands Ireland, the representative body for 16 national newspapers, said it welcomed the minister’s review of the legislative system whereby journalists’ phone records had been accessed by the gardaí, GSOC and possibly other State bodies.

It said it looked forward to making its submission to the review, adding: “However, our clear position is the current legislative framework breaches the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights because it does not adequately protect the sources and privacy of journalists.”

It said it was a “disturbing feature” of the law that journalists do not know if their private information has been sought and accessed.

It called on the minister, the gardaí and GSOC to answer these questions: n How many access requests have been made and granted? n Who are the journalists? n Why this was felt to be necessary and appropriate?

NUJ Irish secretary Séamus Dooley said he met the GSOC commissioners yesterday.

He said GSOC chair Judge Mary Ellen Ring told him their decisions were informed by the Constitution and the ECHR.

He was told that consideration was always given to the balance of the constitutional and other rights to privacy and protection of sources of the individual concerned and the proportionality, fairness and likely outcome of the investigation.


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