Dáil debates

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2022: Second Stage


5:07 pm

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent) | Oireachtas source

Okay. I am delighted to be able to speak briefly on Second Stage of this important legislation, which is badly needed. I look forward to the Minister passing and enacting it because the pernicious activities that go on with online content are quite shocking. As adults, we can deal with it but we have seen horrible cases in the past. As we know, people have been under very significant pressures. Some people have lost their lives as a result of it.This legislation is a long time coming and is badly needed. Some of the companies can be quite reckless and can refuse to remove obnoxious content that is on their platforms, even though they should do so. I look forward to a day when this issue will be dealt with. I hope the laws will be strong enough and will be effective in dealing with this behaviour. This is not an easy area to traverse.

I would like to salute the print media in my own county, and in Waterford and beyond. The local press is a very important part of our whole story, heritage and being. It was so sad to see the diminution of many of those outlets. Indeed, we meet them here regularly. We met representatives of The Nenagh Guardianlast week. I salute that newspaper, the Tipperary Starand all of the many other outlets that are there, including the Waterford News and Star.

It is a different story with The Nationalistbecause there has been a takeover involving up to 14 publications. They were taken over by a big company, a conglomerate of quite nasty people. They sold the offices of our newspaper, TheNationalist, and have all of the staff working from home. Many staff with 30 or 40 years of service were dumped unceremoniously - they were just dismissed - and treated outrageously. It is a terror what greed can do, and what people who are reckless and careless and think they are answerable to no one can do. Now the newspaper has no home to work in. It has no office. Everyone is working from home, as everybody was during the Covid-19 pandemic. When I spoke to some journalists last weekend, I learned that they are still working from home.

I have no idea if they will ever again have an office but I do not believe they will. An old building was bought in the town but there is no sign of that being refurbished. We must be conscious of the workers, the great people, the reporters, the scribes, the editors and the different people who worked there over the decades, and all local media, which is so important. We then have the national broadcaster and the competition there, and the unfairness in regard to TG4 and others.

I have to thank Gript Media. But for Gript Media, an independent organisation, some of us would not exist at all because if you do not suit the narrative here and do not obey the narrative and fall in line with it, you are banished. That is a sad state of affairs for the national broadcaster and it should be looked into and examined. It ill behoves the name “national broadcaster” when it will not cover every group and every Teachta Dála who has something to contribute. It might not suit its narrative and everything else, but it is important that all voices are heard, whether it be in the print media, on television or otherwise.


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