Curious reporting of ‘news’ from the Irish Independent
An interesting series of events last week in the ‘newspapaers’, specifically the Irish Independent.
Earlier in the week we sent a press release to the Indo’ for immediate print. In the article we explained how the time issues around Ben Gilroy’s current contempt case was forcing him to hand over the DDI leadership to Jan van de Ven. It also went into a few case details that have emerged from hearings thus far.
The major talking point was that Justice Ryan had made it definitively clear that the case was “entirely a civil matter”. This raised the problematic question for the courts as to why another sitting judge issued arrest warrants for Ben and two others which led to Ben having his home broken into by Gardai, who entered the upstairs of his home and handcuffed him in front of his young children. If this was clearly NOT a criminal matter then we must question how a ‘bank’ can possibly persuade a judge to use the Gardai in this way?
Surprisingly (or not) the Indo didn’t print the story, not even online. However a couple of days later they did print this:
Judge: court orders must not be defied by ‘mob rule’
Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor – 14 February 2014
A SENIOR High Court judge has warned that if “mob rule” is allowed to prevail by people refusing to obey court orders, then Ireland is on “a slippery slope to anarchy”.
Also in this section
High Court Judge Mr Justice Brian McGovern (pictured) spoke about a “worrying trend” where people apparently tried to prevent the execution of court orders by turning up in court in large numbers.
Others might appear at sites where banks and creditors have received court orders to repossess land and property.
Judge McGovern manages the weekly High Court bankruptcy list and deals with commercial and banking disputes.
He was responding last night to questions about the so-called “Freemen of the Land” (FMOTL) movement at the inaugural Student Legal Convention held at University College Dublin.
There have been more than 100 cases in the last year in which borrowers have used versions of Freemen arguments to resist possession by receivers and banks.
The Freemen claim, among other things, that they don’t recognise the authority of the courts.
Judge McGovern wondered if the purpose of the “unfortunate trend” where groups gather in large numbers at the back of courtrooms was “to try and intimidate the judge”.
“Court orders have to be obeyed, it’s as simple as that,” said Judge McGovern.
” If we get to the point where a mob can appear in court or a mob can appear on land to resist a lawful order of the courts, well then the rule of law ceases to apply any more and then we are in the realm of anarchy”.
Judge McGovern said it is very important that the message goes out that court orders must be obeyed.
“I sometimes feel that while these things may have an innocent enough beginning, they do get out of hand,” he added.
Judge McGovern also told lawyers and students that the prospects for Ireland’s new personal insolvency regime were “promising” and could lead to a reduction in bankruptcy tourism.
The judge said it is “immediately apparent” that the number of debtors seeking self-adjudication has significantly increased since the bankruptcy regime was reformed.
Former banker and TD Peter Matthews said that hundreds of thousands of debtors had become “financial galley slaves” and estimated the Irish banking system needed another €53bn to deal with household and SME debt.
Other speakers at the convention, sponsored by Dublin law firm A&L Goodbody, included Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn, Supreme Court judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Billy Hawkes, the Data Protection Commissioner.
Hmmm, what case might he be referring to in that piece above? Perhaps their are multiple cases going on that fit that description, or maybe it is just an uncanny coincidence it sounds like he is talking about Ben’s case. Well maybe the fact that Brian McGovern was the judge who issued the arrest warrants gives the game away a little.
So what is going on here? We have Justice McGovern taking part in what was probably a very interesting Student Legal Convention at UCD on Thursday. There would have been many fascinating subjects discussed in depth, none of which have been reported by the Indo’s legal editor. Yet the only issue he is interested in is one arising from a question from the floor to which he has aligned Ben Gilroy’s case and by his tone defending the bank’s position.
One might ask why is that his only concern? How did the question even come to be asked, was it by the reporter or was it asked through a student? It all smells a little fishy in light of the information DDI sent the Indo about the case two days before, in which we asked for an apology from the media for their inferences about how Ben conducts himself in court now they have finally seen him in action and can find no fault. It didn’t stop them associating the same tired old nonsense with Ben again though as their article shows..
It is almost as if they gave right of reply to an article they never printed in the first place. Perhaps though it is just more political propaganda at its most blatantly obvious. It brings into serious doubt the intentions of the media and in particular political power groups that influence them.
The article seems also to be missing the point of courts. Courts are supposed to be places of equity, justice and most importantly they are supposed to be places of public record. They are not supposed to be secret. Justice must be ‘seen to be done’.
The courts belong to the people and anyone is entitled to enter the court to ensure that justice is being done properly. Any judge administering justice properly and equitably is not intimidated by an audience. In fact they would welcome it. If a case is of particular interest to the people (as much as it seems to be for the Indo) then it is their right if not their duty to see that justice is done correctly.
It would appear that this article in the Independent might very well have overstepped the mark, and could be deemed as an attempt to influence another judge in the administration of Ben Gilroys case. We trust that Justice Ryan is not swayed by such clumsy journalistic practice and he will welcome the large and interested audience in the court.
In the mean time we hope that the Indo will make genuine efforts to print both sides of the story in any future publications, as many of their good intention journalists strive to achieve.