TV reporters to move inside Dáil gates to thwart protesters

Media allowed to film on grounds of Leinster House in effort to avoid pranks of passersby

Denis O’Brien: his case against the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure and Privileges is unlikely to be heard until next year. Photograph: David Sleator

Denis O’Brien: his case against the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure and Privileges is unlikely to be heard until next year. Photograph: David Sleator

 

Television reporters are to be allowed broadcast from inside the precincts of Leinster House to prevent protesters getting on screen in the background or performing infantile pranks during live broadcasts.

The Oireachtas Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP) was told the health and safety situation for reporters and camera staff was “so acute that it is not feasible for them to cover [proceedings] from Molesworth Street or Merrion Square”.

The 13-member committee agreed to allow RTÉ use the portico position and the souvenir shop beside the gates of Leinster House.

Members were told both of these positions were sometimes used for special events such as budget days but they would now be used more frequently because they “do not have the security problems that can be encountered outside”.

The decision was taken after RTÉ political correspondent Martina Fitzgerald was interrupted during live broadcasts. The same facility is likely to be given to TV3 and UTV.

The CPP, chaired by Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, also discussed cases taken against it by businessman Denis O’Brien and former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins. Members were told the case by Ms Kerins would be heard on July 13th and last up to six days.

The Houses of the Oireachtas have retained a legal team of five, including former attorney general Paul Gallagher. The CPP was told the lawyers would report back in September with details of how the case was proceeding.

Ms Kerins alleges the Public Accounts Committee engaged in a “witch-hunt” against her, which caused her distress and injury to her health, when questioning issues such as her salary.

She also claims the committee did not have powers to conduct the hearings as it had, and acted unlawfully.

Statement

Mr O’Brien named every member of the last CPP, including former ceann comhairle Seán Barrett, in a submission to the High Court.

The businessman took issue with the committee’s findings that Independent TD Catherine Murphy did not abuse Dáil privilege when she made allegations about him in the chamber.