Journalists' union concerned at calls to make filming on-duty Gardaí an offence

The motion is being debated at the AGSI conference this evening

Journalists' union concerned at calls to make filming on-duty Gardaí an offence

File photo

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has expressed concern at calls for the photographing or filming of Gardaí - while on duty - to be made a criminal offence.

It's one of 30 motions to be debated at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors' (AGSI) annual conference which is underway in Killarney.

The motion includes calls for a new criminal offence to be created for photographing or capturing an image of a Garda while carrying out their duties - without their prior consent.

Speaking on Newstalk Drive, Michael Foley, member of the NUJ Ethics Council, outlined their concerns.

"One of the big concerns is obviously freedom of expression," he said. "But there's also an issue about the coverage of demonstrations. Demonstrations and marches are part of our civil liberties, and part of that is that hey are done in public and journalists cover those things and how they are policed."

He added that even if the motion is passed, the law would be "impossible" to implement.

"According to this, you wouldn't be able to take a picture of the front of Leinster House, because there's a guard standing there on duty," he said. "I'm not entirely sure how the thing would operate."

Mr Foley said AGSI members need to think very seriously about the issues raised before voting on the motion.

That is just one of close to 30 motions to be debated by 150 delegates representing over 2,000 sergeants and inspectors at the conference.

Other motions urge the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to introduce legislation on pedestrians and cyclists being obliged to wear hi-visibility clothing and helmets.