Daly and Wallace lawsuit flagged for press freedom concerns

Media freedom NGOs issue alert about defamation action against RTÉ by MEPs

A defamation lawsuit against broadcaster RTÉ by MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly has been flagged on the Council of Europe platform as a potential threat to press freedom.

Media freedom NGOs Index on Censorship and International Press Institute issued an alert on the council’s safety of journalists platform about the case, filing it under the category of “harassment and intimidation of journalists”, which includes the use of defamation cases.

The alert notes that the two MEPs filed separate defamation proceedings against RTÉ on April 11th, and that the two are represented by the law firm Dore & Company Solicitors.

It is the second alert ever filed concerning Ireland on the platform since it was established seven years ago, adding to the flagging of a lawsuit against the Dublin Inquirer newspaper in 2020.


“We are extremely alarmed at the legal actions that have been filed against RTÉ by MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, especially as we believe that they are characteristic of strategic lawsuits against public participation – also known as SLAPPs,” Jessica Ní Mhainín, a policy and campaigns manager with Index on Censorship, said in a statement.

“We identify SLAPPs through some key hallmarks, but fundamentally they involve powerful or wealthy people making legal threats or taking legal actions against public watchdogs – such as media outlets – in response to public-interest speech.”

Mr Wallace and Ms Daly did not immediately respond to a request for comment but, in a statement, Robert Dore of Dore & Company Solicitors said: “If individuals who make the case that they have been defamed by the national broadcaster institute proceedings to vindicate their good names and reputations, as is their lawful entitlement, I do not see how this can be considered as ‘harassment and intimidation of journalists’, or how any NGO can characterise their cases as ‘strategic lawsuits’.

“One must balance press freedom against the rights of individuals to their good names and reputations.”

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times