Thursday, 23 June 2005
Jim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
I get a distinct sense that there is not a united approach on the part of the Government on this issue. In fact, I suspect that reform of the libel laws will fall within the cracks in the coalition and the Minister's reply does not allay that suspicion.
I want to focus on a number of issues. First, do I take it from the Minister's reply that he does not consider legislation to be necessary in the privacy area because of developments in jurisprudence both here and in Europe? Second, on reform of the libel laws, is there a direct connection with some decisions in the privacy area or will we have action soon? I say that because I always understood the Minister was very interested in this area. He produced a Private Members' Bill about eight or nine years ago. We have consultations, advisory groups, major conferences and God knows what else, yet nothing seems to be happening. Will the Minister indicate a timeframe? When will we have a Bill on reform of the libel laws? I want reform in that area and, while I do not want the statutory press council promised in An Agreed Programme for Government, I want a voluntary press council.