IMEACHTAÍ AN CHOISTE
PROCEEDINGS OF THE COMMITTEE
Dé Céadaoin, 11 Márta, 1970.
Wednesday, 11th March, 1970.
1. The Sixth meeting of the Committee took place at 7.30 p.m. in Room 91.
2. The following members were present:—
The Ceann Comhairle (Chairman), the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, Deputies Bruton, P. J. Burke, R. Burke, Carter, Cluskey, Crowley, Dowling, Enright, Esmonde, Foley, Gallagher, Murphy, J. O’Leary and Wyse.
3. Privilege (Criticism of the Chair).
A Draft Report brought in by the Chairman was read as follows:—
1. Pursuant to Order of the Dáil of 9th December, 1969 the Committee on Procedure and Privileges examined the item in the issue of the magazine, “This Week in Ireland”, for 12th December, 1969, which under the heading, “The Ceann Comhairle is Biased”, purported to give a report of an interview with Deputy Conor Cruise O’Brien.
2. The Committee found that the only reference to the Ceann Comhairle in the body of the report is contained in the following extract:—
“Is there anything specially that riles you about the Parliament?” I asked him.
“That enslavement to stultifying legislation,” he said, “and after that, the Ceann Comhairle.”
“Do you think the Ceann Comhairle is unfair to the opposition?”
“I feel that he is subconsciously biased towards his own party.”
3. In considering whether a breach of privilege had been committed the Committee had regard to the Resolution passed by the Dáil on 30th April, 1947 in the following terms:—
That the Dáil is of opinion that it is desirable that the obligations and privileges of members should be more adequately defined, and that appropriate action to that end should be taken without delay;
that in view of the fact that, prior to the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle on 29th instant, there has been no rule or resolution of the House or ruling of the Ceann Comhairle which declared it to be a breach of privilege for a member to criticise, outside the House, the conduct of the Chair, the Dáil does not agree that the speech of the Minister for Local Government can, in the circumstances, be held to constitute such a breach;
that the Dáil accepts the ruling of the Ceann Comhairle, above referred to, and decides that, henceforth, adverse criticism of the conduct of the Chair, made outside the House, shall be a breach of privilege.
4. The Committee, by a majority decision, found that the use of the words, “I feel that he is subconsciously biased towards his own party”, attributed to Deputy Cruise O’Brien constitutes a breach of privilege.
5. The Committee, by a majority decision, also found that the use of the words, “The Ceann Comhairle is Biased”, by the magazine constitutes a breach of privilege by the publishers, Creation Ltd.
6. Having interviewed Deputy Cruise O’Brien and having heard his explanation that it was not his desire to impugn the honour of the Ceann Comhairle the Committee, by a majority decision, recommends that no further action be taken.
7. Having heard three representatives of the magazine publishers and having noted their attitude, the Committee, by a majority decision, decided that the publishers were guilty of a breach of privilege.
(i) Paragraphs 1 to 6 inclusive, agreed to.
(ii) Paragraph 7.
Amendment proposed (Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach):
“To delete all words after ‘decision’ to the end of the paragraph and substitute the following:—
‘recommends that no action be taken notwithstanding the breach of privilege by the publishers’.”
Question put, and agreed to.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
(iii) Motion made (Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach):
“That the Draft Report, as amended, be the Report of the Committee.”
Question put: the Committee divided: For, 13; Against, 2.
For:—The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, Deputies P. J. Burke, R. Burke, Carter, Crowley, Dowling, Enright, Esmonde, Foley, Gallagher, Murphy, J. O’Leary and Wyse.
Against:—Deputies Bruton and Cluskey.
The Question was declared carried accordingly.
Ordered: To report accordingly.
4. The Committee adjourned at 8.40 p.m.