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07.26 2 Jun 2015


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The High Court is due to publish details in the morning of a temporary injunction preventing RTE from airing details of Denis O'Brien's banking relationship with IBRC.

Earlier, the judge in the case Mr Justice Donald Binchy clarified the position on reporting of comments by Deputy Catherine Murphy made under Dail privilege about the businessman's bank affairs.

He said he never intended to restrain TDs from making comments in the Dail, nor to prevent the reporting of them.

In the wake of the ruling, media outlets were able to publish Deputy Catherine Murphy’s comments - made under Dail privilege - that Denis O’Brien enjoyed what she called favourable interest rates of 1.25 per cent on expired loans with IBRC.

In a statement this evening Mr O'Brien said he fully accepted Dáil privilege, but he said that the information put before the Dail was wrong.

The High Court judge at the centre of the Denis O'Brien and Catherine Murphy story has said it is clear to him he is not entitled to restrain the fair reporting of Dáil utterances.

Mr Justice Binchy said he never intended his order, stopping RTÉ reporting on the businessman's confidential banking arrangements with IBRC, to be construed in that light.

The Irish Times and RTÉ came to court today looking for clarity on the scope of an order, injuncting the media from reporting details of Mr O'Brien's banking affairs with IBRC.

The businessman secured the injunction two weeks ago claiming a story RTÉ planned to run about corporate governance at the bank breached his privacy.

The question today however was whether the order's effect extended to reporting comments made in the Dáil last week by Independent TD Catherine Murphy.

Mr Justice Donald Binchy shed light on the issue when he said he never intended his order to stop fair reporting of Dáil utterances.

Seamus Dooley of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) called it a 'clear and unambiguous statement by the court that no citizen and no organisation trumps parliament'.

The ruling means that media outlets are now free to publish the comments made by Deputy Murphy.

Up until now, most media outlets have been relying on their own legal advice not to publish the statements which were made under Dáil privilege.

Opposition parties welcomed the clarification from the High Court on reporting Dáil utterances.

Both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein welcomed the ruling, but are demanding a response from the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.

Sinn Fein Deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald says the silence from the government has been deafening.

“An Taosieach and the Tánaiste were a absent from this whole controversy (and they) failed to assertively protect the rights of the Dáil and the rights of TDs,” Ms McDonald said.

Ms McDonald called for a debate in the Dáil on the matter and the establishment of “a credible investigation” into the Siteserv issue.

Last Thursday, Ms Murphy said that the former CEO of IBRC, Mike Aynsley, made verbal agreements with Mr O'Brien to extend the terms of his already expired loans.

Deputy Murphy went on to say that the agreement was never approved by the credit committee, and she went on to discuss what she called the 'favourable' interest terms.

TIMELINE: The events that led to today's High Court ruling

Ms Murphy has been welcoming the court decision.

Speaking to Jonathan Healy on Newstalk Lunchtime this afternoon, the Independent TD said her central point has been lost over the last few days - and that she is looking for an independent inquiry into some issues related to the IBRC.

Former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes has reiterated his belief that the comments made in the Dáil by Ms Murphy were wrong.

And he told Lunchtime there was "no basis" for them.

O'Brien released a statement regarding the judgement and again said Dáil privilege should not be abused.

He said: "Deputy Murphy has not once declared that she categorically and unequivocally stands over the veracity of the information she put before the Dáil."

You can watch the full video of Deputy Murphy's comments in the Dáil below:


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