A trade unionist who took RTE to court

 

Mr Larry O'Toole's name is associated with his successful challenge to Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act, banning the broadcast of interviews with Sinn Fein spokes men.

The trade union activist won a Supreme Court challenge to the Act in 1992. His action followed a refusal to broadcast an interview with him as a spokesman for striking Gateaux workers in Finglas because of his membership of Sinn Fein.

Mr O'Toole, who is in his early 50s, lives in Darndale, north Dublin. He has three children.

He is a long-standing member of Sinn Fein, and has stood unsuccessfully as a Sinn Fein candidate in local, European and general elections. He stood in the last general election on an anti-drugs platform.

A Sinn Fein spokeswoman described him as a quiet, hard-working party member who was well liked. He addressed delegates at the last Sinn Fein ardfheis and is known to oppose any changes in Articles 2 and 3.

In 1992 the High Court ruled that RTE had been wrong to refuse to broadcast an interview with Mr O'Toole, as chairman of the strike committee at the Gateaux bakery in 1990. RTE appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, and lost the appeal.

At the time Mr O'Toole said RTE had claimed to be carrying out a Government order, but by appealing the decision it had "taken up the cudgels on behalf of the Government".

The Section 31 order lapsed in January 1994, and in a letter to The Irish Times that month Mr O'Toole said the station was still operating a "culture of self-censorship".