Privacy on the Radio

Ryan Tubridy, RTE‘s king of fogey fluff, had an uncharacteristically substantial discussion of privacy this morning (it should be available here in due course; scroll to about 45/50 minutes in). It is almost 15 years since Charles Haughey resigned as Taoiseach (Prime Minister): as the RTE obituary puts it:

In February 1992, former Justice Minister Sean Doherty delivered the coup de grace when he insisted that Haughey had been aware of the telephone tappings of two political journalists ten years previously. ‘Anybody else that says otherwise or tries to abandon him or herself from that situation is not telling the truth,’ said Doherty.

Not even the great survivor could weather such a damning disclosure, and Haughey was duly forced to resign as Taoiseach.

The tapping had led to a leading case on privacy: Kennedy v Ireland [1987] IR 587; and to the enactment of the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act, 1993 (see also ss98 and 110 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, 1983).*

This morning’s discussion on Tubridy featured Kevin Rafter, Political Editor of the Sunday Tribune, and blogger, dealing with the politics of Doherty’s revalations and Haughey’s resignation, and Donncha O’Connell, Dean of the Faculty of Law, UCG, dealing with the right to privacy.

It was a fascinating discussion; I particularly enjoyed Donncha’s sophisticated analysis of the right to privacy and the challenges it faces from contemprorary government; and the whole thing will be well worth catching again when RTE -eventualy – put it on their website.

Update 1: It never rains but it pours. Less than an hour after the Tubridy interview, Today with Pat Kenny gets in on the act (probably on the basis of that well-known moral principle: Anything you can do, I can do better), with an absorbing interview with Billy Hawkes, the Data Protection Commissioner. (The interview will appear here later in the week, and be available for a week; scroll to about 45/50 minutes in). Listen, learn, enjoy.

Update 2: It’s so much pouring as a monsoon. Damien Mulley, in one of his posts today, points out that the Flux show on RTE Radio1 tonight, entitled “We’ve got your picture; now what’s your name?”, will consider what happens in a community when a tragedy there brings the national media to their doorsteps. (As usual, an audio stream of the show will appear on the show’s site in due course).

*Update 3 (07 January 2007): Thanks to those who emailed me to point out that the earlier reference was garbled and inaccurate. Apologies to all, and in particular to those who tried to follow an inaccurate link.

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