Irish broadcaster seeks permission to report speech accusing billionaire
By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, June 2 (Reuters) - Ireland's state broadcaster will appeal on Tuesday for a court to let it report a lawmaker's speech in parliament that accused a billionaire of obtaining sweetheart bank loans, a ruling that could determine how far Irish courts can go to muzzle the press.
At issue is whether "absolute privilege" of lawmakers to speak up in parliament - and news organisations to report their remarks - trumps the wide power of Irish courts to halt publication of stories that they rule may be libellous.
Ireland's domestic media have so far mainly complied with a court order banning reporting of accusations against billionaire press baron Denis O'Brien, even though lawmaker Catherine Murphy stood up in parliament last week to repeat the allegations.
Instead, the court-imposed media blackout has itself become the story.
"I do not believe it's tenable that media outlets in Ireland cannot report on what is taking place in our parliament and media outlets outside of Ireland can and are," Irish Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe told state broadcaster RTE.
"That is not acceptable."
The leader of Ireland's main opposition party, Fianna Fail, said the country was on the verge of a "constitutional crisis" over the issue.
O'Brien is one of Ireland's most powerful press barons, owner of its biggest circulation newspaper, the Irish Independent, as well as four other national newspapers, 13 regional newspapers and two major national radio stations. Continuación...