In praise of . . . Gavin Sheridan

Tireless transparency campaign by journalist led to release of ‘Trichet letter’

The release of the infamous "Trichet letter" in this week's Irish Times may have been seen as a significant exclusive or as a leak, but to many it was the culmination of three years of campaigning for its release by one person in particular: Gavin Sheridan.

Sheridan, a journalist and blogger from Cork (who until recently was director of innovation at Storyful), has tirelessly championed the public’s right to information about public bodies.

Through his website, Sheridan has promoted ways in which journalists and the public can use existing laws to shed light on the machinations of power.

His campaign for transparency has resulted in David versus Goliath battles, not just with the ECB (which ultimately refused to release the letter to him), but also with the likes of Nama and Anglo Irish Bank.


Nama resisted – all the way to the Supreme Court – Sheridan’s attempts to use laws to find out what the public body was up to.

Where many would hide their specialised tools of the trade, Sheridan has gone out of his way to share his insights into how best to use legislation (including many lesser-known laws) with journalists in Ireland and around the world.

In response to the release of the "Trichet letter", Sheridan blogged about why he had campaigned for access to the letter: "Without access to information, the public lives in darkness. Information is the oxygen of healthy democracies. Governments and public bodies hold a monopoly on information and this monopoly needs to be challenged – always, tirelessly and forever."

One thing’s for sure: we need more Gavin Sheridans.

David Cochrane

David Cochrane

David Cochrane is the former social-strategy editor of The Irish Times