Last Thursday week, 29 May, Deputy Catherine Murphy gave the background to her reasons for believing an independent commission of inquiry should be established relating to transactions in IBRC since 2009. Deputy Murphy had sources, which she believed were reliable and robust, who told her that very low interest rates had been given to Mr. O'Brien. Within minutes of this being reported, the shutters came down on almost all media outlets, preventing them from reporting what Deputy Murphy had said even though it was something which was in the public interest and was covered by absolute privilege under Article 15 of the Constitution. The national broadcaster was silenced, as was TV3, the radio stations and most of the newsprint outlets. Not all were silenced because Broadsheet.ie and The Sunday Times printed the material, but others were effectively silenced by threats and intimidatory action to the effect that this material was the subject of a court injunction.
The Taoiseach was also silent. For the entire five-day period in which the media were silent, he was silent too. He did not criticise the media blackout or defend the right of a Member of this House to raise issues of public interest. She was called a "liar" and a "thief" during the public debate that ensued. The Taoiseach went into hiding and many people across the country could not understand why the Taoiseach of the country would not come forward to support Dáil privilege, unequivocally and in public.
Is it because Mr. Denis O'Brien was leading the legal challenge that he remained silent? Does the Taoiseach think Mr. O'Brien was right to do what he did, which is effectively to threaten legal action on media outlets to prevent them reporting what is said in this House? Is the Taoiseach scared of this individual? Was he afraid to confront the issue and the person? Why was he willing to remain silent and indifferent to attempts to stifle legitimate debate, to limit reporting of Dáil proceedings and not to respond to personal attacks against Dáil Deputies?