Irish Examiner view: Pace of defamation law reform is not reassuring

Irish Examiner view: Pace of defamation law reform is not reassuring

Another step in that process is scheduled for later this week when the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will receive a report on how today’s punitive legislation might be reformed. Picture: Collins

Though a review of defamation laws “continues to be a legislative priority” the issue has been, like that infamous, well-battered can, kicked down the road more often than is reassuring. 

Another step in that process is scheduled for later this week when the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will receive a report on how today’s punitive legislation might be reformed — if there is a real will to reform it though there was a programme for government commitment to do just that.

The pandemic may slow the legislative process but that prospect might be balanced by consideration of myriad examples of how an enfeebled media allows a coach and four be driven through conventional politics. 

Politicians of all hues struggle to sustain an affection for an objective media but any consideration of the alternatives might, finally, trigger legislation that is fair to all citizens and demands the highest standards from all media whether they see themselves as publishers or not. 

That the importance of the issues involved — transparency and honesty — have been highlighted once again by the mother and baby homes data controversy may add impetus to that reform.

Public consultation for the review closed in January 2017 and proposals flowing from that will be brought to Government this year. 

Kicking the can down the road one more time and deferring positive change would be reckless and unwise. And not just for media organisations or politicians.

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