Sinn Féin is seeking to amend the Broadcasting Act to make it a breach of licence to ban any journalist.
This proposal follows on from the ban of Irish Times staff who appeared on Newstalk and other radio stations in 2017.
The journalists from the Irish Times were banned from appearing on Communicorp radio stations in 2017 after one of the newspaper’s columnists Fintan O’Toole said that Newstalk had become “the most flagrantly sexist public organisation in Ireland”.
The ban was lifted after Newstalk’s parent company Bauer Media Audio’s acquisition was completed.
Speaking at the Dáil this evening, Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane said that the amendment would prohibit a member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) from being banned from communications media companies for reasons of occupation, employer, or employment status.
He stated, “The blacklisting of journalists by Communicorp media in the past was outrageous and unacceptable,”.
Stating that journalists are “stronger for being members of unions”, Cullinane said that the threshold for the new law is that the banning of journalists who are members of the NUJ would not be allowed.
With large media conglomerates expanding, Cullinane said that there is a need to protect the free press.
The government has placed a timed amendment of 18 months on the Bill, which Cullinane says “makes a mockery of the process”.
He added that the delay on the Bill is “kicking the can down the road”.
IMAGE – “David Cullinane TD” (CC BY 2.0) by Sinn Féin