Privacy in the Age of 24/7 News
Deaglán de Bréadún
Privacy is becoming more and more of an issue in these days of 24/7 news and tabloid (or even “broadloid”) intrusiveness. We have had two controversies aired in recent days: the shielding of a witness in a murder trial and the travails of Government minster Martin Cullen.
The woman in the Celine Cawley murder trial who gave evidence of having an affair with the accused was given private access to the courts by the Gardaí, so that the media could not take pictures of her.
This caused uproar but, interestingly, there were no complaints about not having access to the teenage child of the married couple in the trial. The only pictures that were wanted were pictures of the accused’s girlfriend. One has to wonder if there was any fundamental interest at stake here, or was it just prurient interest? The tabloids (and maybe one or two “broadloids”) would have had a field day with the pictures. It is at least arguable that the woman’s life would have been ruined and that the Guards took a decent, humane decision for which they should be applauded.
As for Martin Cullen, he himself may be considered fair game as a politician and public figure – that’s the way we live now - but surely it should stop short at his family? Cullen was, of course, wrong to compare his experience to rape. But that unfortunate and insensitive verbal slip should not be made the main issue in the discussion. To read the Cullen speech, click here.