Judge's criticism of court reporting


Madam, - The comments attributed to Mr Justice Hardiman at the Law Society Justice Media Awards ( The Irish Times, November 26th) are deeply offensive, especially to female journalists. Mr Justice Hardiman made a number of interesting points about coverage of the courts but his crass reference to female reporters as "cowgirls" and the singling out of female legal correspondents for special mention detract from his contribution.

I do not accept the contention that reporters covering the courts should have a legal qualification, but clearly such a qualification is helpful. Which is why so many of the so-called "cowgirls" excel at their work, since many of our leading female reporters currently covering the legal beat have legal qualifications.

At one level Mr Justice Hardiman's comments may be regarded as nothing more than a crime against humour, but there is a serious aspect to his rant.

As a member of the Supreme Court he has displayed a worrying prejudice against journalists and media organisations.

- Yours, etc,

SÉAMUS DOOLEY, Irish Secretary, National Union of Journalists, Spencer Row, Dublin 1.