Now that An Taoiseach (the Prime Minister) has put us out of our misery and finally called the long-awaited general election, all Bills currently pending will fall with the outgoing DÃ¡il (Lower House). Of those of particular interest to this blog, this means that the Defamation Bill, 2006 (Department of Justice | Oireachtas (pdf)) and the Privacy Bill, 2006 (Department of Justice | Oireachtas (pdf)) now both fall too, and their fate will have to await the pleasure of the incoming government in the next DÃ¡il.
The fate of the Defamation Bill, in particular, raises an interesting question for the press industry. The Bill provided for the recognition of a Press Council; the press industry has advanced with the establishment of an Office of the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council of Ireland in parallel with the passage of the Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas (Parliament); and they will now have to decide whether to continue with this process now that the Bill has fallen. They could of course keep their powder dry until after the election, in the hope that the incoming government revives the Bill, and then press on with the formation of the Ombudsman and Council. But it would be a better indication of their bona fides in this matter if they carried on regardless, and established the Press Council before the next Dáil sits. Indeed, having done so, it would then give them the credibility to call for the Defamation Bill to be revived by the incoming government!