NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley has said that the judgment yesterday by the Supreme Court to order the Irish Times to pay legal costs, estimated at more than €600,000, was a "punishment" for the way editor Geraldine Kennedy had successfully protected the paper's sources.
The order on costs follows the Mahon tribunal’s failed bid for a court order compelling Kennedy and public affairs correspondent Colm Keena to answer questions on the source of an article about payments to former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
Dooley said: “The Supreme Court clearly recognised the right of The Irish Times to protect their sources. This decision may be perceived as a punishment for the manner in which the editor decided to protect the newspaper’s sources despite the vindication by the Supreme Court of the right of journalists to do so. In that sense the judgment has profound implications for Irish journalism.”
The Supreme Court ruled there were “exceptional circumstances” in the case – namely the journalists’ destruction of documents related to the source – which justified departure from the normal rule that costs go to the winning side in litigation.