Committee Reports::Report - Magazine Item containing Criticism of the Ceann Comhairle::18 February, 1970::Proceedings of the Joint Committee



Dé Céadaoin, 18 Feabhra, 1970.

Wednesday, 18th February, 1970.

1. The Fourth meeting of the Committee took place at 4.30 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, Cluskey, Crowley, Dowling, Foley, Gallagher, L’Estrange, 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 given 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.

Ordered: That further consideration of the Draft Report be postponed and that Deputy Cruise O’Brien and a representative or representatives of Creation, Ltd., be requested to attend the next meeting of the Committee [Deputy Bruton].

4. The Committee adjourned at 5.30 p.m. until 4.30 p.m. on Wednesday next.