Rabbitte statement on defamation queried


SEANAD:TERRY LEYDEN (FF) questioned whether it was democratic for the Minister for Communications to make a statement to the House about a defamation case settlement without members being able to question him on it.

Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke (FG) said the Minister was exercising his right under the Constitution to address the Seanad.

Pat Rabbitte said he was responding to what Mr Leyden had said in the chamber on Tuesday about the settlement of a case by RTÉ. “I had no hand in determining the manner in which it was defended or settled.”

Mr Rabbitte said the case related to remarks he had made, six years ago, about the circumstances in which a constituent had confessed to a savage double murder at Grangegorman, Dublin, that he had not committed. As a public representative, he had pursued this potential miscarriage of justice and had called for an inquiry.

“I fully accept that the incident room manager, Det Garda Alan Bailey, who was the plaintiff in the action against RTÉ, not only experienced reservations but expressed them at the time. To date, no one had been brought to trial in respect of these brutal murders.

Earlier, Mr Leyden said he wanted to question Mr Rabbitte in regard to the allegations he had made about Garda Bailey. The Government was getting a very easy ride from RTÉ. The station was now very much under the control of the Minister, because he had threatened to remove the board and the chairman. “But when the case was settled, everything was happy in the garden again. There is a cover-up here and I intend to expose it.”

David Norris (Ind) wanted to know who was responsible for providing each member of the House with 60 copies of a booklet “in defence of the so-called stability treaty. Who is paying for it? How dare they do this? As an ordinary member I am not allowed to circulate material in this manner. This is the kind of arrogant government that we are getting now.”

Opposition leader Darragh O’Brien (FF) said he was astounded that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had made insensitive and flippant remarks about the plight of the Greek people.

He had been reported as saying that apart from holidaying in the Greek islands, he thought most Irish people did not have many connections with Greece, while wondering how many grocery items of Greek origin were bought here.

Such comments were extremely insensitive to fellow EU citizens, said Mr O’Brien.