Gardaí need to be protected against people who record them on video and upload to the internet, according to Michael Healy Rae.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Kerry TD called for an “open and frank discussion” about laws against recording Gardaí in the course of their duty.
He said there have been several high-profile examples where people have approached Gardaí with the intention of recording them and publishing the video within minutes.
Deputy Healy Rae said the debate should be about protecting the interests of both citizens and Gardaí trying to do their jobs.
“We have two things to do here,” he said. “First of all, we want to absolutely protect the right of the citizen.
“I know of plenty of situations where people recorded Gardaí and the Gardaí weren’t shown up in good light and it helped individuals – the fact that they had a record of what actually was said or what went on between themselves and members of An Garda Síochána.
“But then, we have the other side of it, and the other side of it is very worrying. If a garda is going to question somebody and maybe all the garda is doing is just doing their duty and the mobile phone is produced and two seconds later whatever went on between the two people is posted up on YouTube.
“Now I don’t think that has to happen or that that is beneficial to the person who was being asked the question in the first instance.”
He said Ireland’s current laws were written before the advent of camera phones.
“We have plenty of instances where people actually try to create a situation where they can make the other person look bad and then put it up on YouTube,” he said.
“It is things like that we need to look at. It is a whole area we didn’t have a number of years ago. Now we do and all I’m saying is it should be looked at in the interests of everybody.”
Deputy Healy Rae admitted that “you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater” and again noted that the public must also be protected.
“We have had very high-profile cases - obviously I wouldn’t dare mention any person or anything like that - but we have had cases where people who, let’s say are of news interest, have had altercations or meetings or encounters with An Garda Síochána and two seconds later, they ended up on YouTube.
“The whole purpose of that was to show up the other person in a bad light.
“Now every person where they are doing their job … of course you have to do your job properly and diligently and you can’t mistreat or do anything wrong to anybody when you are doing your job but at the same time, the public needs to be protected but also the Gardaí need to be protected.
“I think it is very unfair that if you are doing your job that two minutes later whatever you said or did is up on YouTube.”
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