Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media

Making Europe Fit for the Digital Age: EU Commissioner for Competition

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Commissioner very much. She has had a busy hour responding to all of our members. I also thank our members. At the risk of sounding repetitive, which is not what I want to do, the Commissioner has covered everything comprehensively. It falls to me to conclude. The erosion of democracy is something that has left our countries and world highly vulnerable. We saw what happened on Capitol Hill. We saw the power of digital media and social media and the implications it had on Capitol Hill, which would have been unimaginable had anybody suggested it would be possible. This is why I believe the work being done by the Commissioner is hugely important for all of us as a country.

Having attended the Conference on the Future of Europe, I am mindful that one of the important pieces of policy work the conference will do is on digital transformation and on the idea the Commissioner has comprehensively addressed today on leaving nobody behind, whether people live in rural or urban areas, whether they are female or male or their age. None of this should matter and this is a very good objective.

To reflect on what the Commissioner and members have said, during the pandemic we had an attack on our health service. This was probably at the most vulnerable time in the history of the State. It proved very difficult for those on the front line in an already-impossible situation. I feel very strongly about a point that has been touched on, which is that in the work being done by the Commissioner, it will be hugely important to find a way to ensure that information going out is legitimate, trusted and independent. This is crucial in the work being done by the Commissioner. It has been critical throughout the pandemic with regard to Covid deniers. The voice and platform misinformation gets is equally as powerful as the correct and legitimate information. We have to find a way at European level and here in our own country to ensure we suppress the misinformation that can get out. It led people astray in the situation the world found itself in with the pandemic.

I do not have any questions because the Commissioner has covered everything so well. These are just my own rambling thoughts, having listened to everything everybody has had to say. I invite the Commissioner to make any closing remark she has after hearing from committee members.


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