Bill on violation of privacy to be introduced

Fri, Mar 23, 2012, 00:00

SEANAD REPORT:LEAVE WAS given for the introduction of a Bill, in the names of Independent Senators David Norris, Seán Barrett and Feargal Quinn, to provide for a tort of violation of privacy. The Bill is to be debated at second stage next Wednesday.

Mr Norris said its provisions were along the lines of a measure that had been promised by a previous administration as a counterbalance to defamation legislation, which had substantially weakened the rights of private individuals to defend themselves against invasion of their privacy by the media. It was almost identical to a Bill produced in 2006 by a previous coalition and it was virtually the same as a Bill on the Order Paper in the name of the present Government.

“So I am expecting that . . . it will be passed by the House.”

Calling for a debate on the issue of ethics and corruption in politics, in the light of the Mahon tribunal report, John Gilroy (Lab) said once again another Fianna Fáil leader had been disgraced. Acting chairman Denis O’Donovan (FF) said that was not relevant to the business to be taken yesterday.

Fianna Fáil leader Darragh O’Brien said there could be a proper debate when members had had an opportunity to digest the tribunal findings.

Jim Walsh (FF) said it had taken the tribunal 15 years to report on matters described as being of urgent public importance. This had been done at huge cost to taxpayers. The exorbitant fees demanded by those who had participated, and pursued by the chairmen of some tribunals, were nothing short of a scandal. Members of the House should be prepared to say that they were a disgrace.

Claiming that the household charge scheme had turned into an unmitigated disaster, Darragh O’Brien (FF) urged that arrangements be put in place for payments to be made at post offices. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan should say why he thought this could not be done.

Seanad leader Maurice Cummins (FG) said he thought An Post would be looking for €5 of every €100 paid. He believed there would be a significant level of payments by the closing date under the current arrangements.

Marie Moloney (Lab) advocated that AIB account holders should vote with their feet over the “outrageous” requirement to have at least €2,500 in their current accounts to avail of free banking. They should move their money elsewhere.

The Government was out there in Europe trying to negotiate a break for taxpayers while this bank was turning the screws on its customers. It was time for the Government to step in to end this nonsense.

Aideen Hayden (Lab) said she regarded as highly dangerous a suggestion by lending institutions that they should have access to “wider” accounts to identify customers who could get into arrears over mortgages.

A debate should be held as a matter of urgency on the Keane report suggestions to aid those experiencing difficulties over mortgage payments.