Words spoken in the Dáil are privileged.

There’s a reason for this. Public representatives need to be able to speak freely, without fear of comeback through defamation laws.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

200 years ago, Hansard started publishing those privileged words.

The Dail followed that tradition, with the Dail record. The Record is privileged, and can be quoted with impunity.

But the Record isn’t published in real time. It can be 24 or more hours before a day’s proceedings appear on the Oireachtas website.

So what happens if the official record of what was said in Dáil Éireann under privilege, is inaccurate.?

Bear that in mind as you look at the example of an inaccurate record below.
The subtitled text has been copied without alteration from the Dáil Record.

The example below is pretty trivial, but what if the transcriber is editing speech that isn’t clear to begin with. Bertie Ahern was notorious for his use of imprecise language. But infuriating as that could be, I’d rather his actual waffle to a tidied up record of what someone thought he ought to have said.

At least that way, we’d have an accurate record, even if the answer is vague.

Published by Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and tweeter, yet still finds himself underemployed. Go figure.

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