Decision a 'victory for press freedom and common sense', says NUJ


REACTION:THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists has welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to grant the appeal.

Irish secretary Séamus Dooley described the decision as “victory for press freedom, for journalism and for common sense” and a welcome the restatement of the right to protect confidential sources of information.

Mr Dooley said it was regrettable that Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy and public affairs correspondent Colm Keena had been forced to go to the Supreme Court to vindicate an important journalistic principle but added that the judgment was extremely important.

“We salute the tenacity of Ms Kennedy and Mr Keena . . . It is vital that the values of editorial integrity and independence are upheld and that media organisations continue to place journalistic ethics at the heart of their business.”

Jeremy Dear, London-based general secretary of the union, described the result, coming so soon after the Suzanne Breen case in Belfast, as “another great day for press freedom”.

National Newspapers of Ireland said the decision recognised the essential role played by newspapers in serving the public interest and confirmed the protection of sources must never be interfered with.

“Freedom of the press must always be safeguarded in a free society and the ability of editors and journalists to keep the public informed and maintain a watching brief on governments and public bodies must be preserved. Today’s landmark decision supporting those principles is therefore greatly welcomed.”

Emmet Malone, chairman of the The Irish Times editorial committee, which represents the professional and ethical interests of journalists at the newspaper, also welcomed the outcome of the case.

The decision to recognise the right of journalists to protect their sources would have important and far-reaching consequences for all strands of the media and their ability to hold the country’s institutions and public figures to account, he said.

“We commend the determination shown by The Irish Times to defend its journalists’ ability to do their work and congratulate our colleagues on what is an important legal victory.”

Ms Kennedy hailed the court’s decision as a triumph for investigative journalism.

“We’re happy that this saga has come to an end, that we’re not being sent back to the tribunal and instructed to reveal our our sources,” she said. “It’s very important because for the first time the right of journalists to protect their sources is enshrined in Irish law.”

She expressed her thanks to the board and trust of The Irish Times for their support.

Mr Keena said he was delighted that the court had listened to their arguments and recognised they had acted in the public interest in publishing the story.