{meta} Issue - items at meetings - Motion in the name of Councillor Mannix Flynn:

Issue - meetings

Meeting: 21/09/2023 - Protocol Committee (Item 14)

Motion in the name of Councillor Mannix Flynn:

That this Protocol Committee notes with concern two recent incidences where members of the press were effectively banned/censored from attending what are normally meetings open to the public and the press.


The first meeting was a meeting of the Protocol Committee with regards the nomination of Greta Thunberg for honorary freedom of the city.  The press were instructed to leave the meeting.  No particular reason was given and no prior warning was given to Councillors instead standing orders were ill-used in this instance bearing in mind that the group leaders who had been informed of nomination for the freedom of the city of Dublin such Duncan Stewart - why were they not informed of Greta Thunberg’s nomination? instead this was done with cloak and dagger and secrecy at the Protocol committee.  This has the potential to damage the integrity of the Protocol committee and its members by undermining its independence, its transparency and its support for Freedom of the press and most importantly of all- access for the public.


The second incident was regarding an emergency meeting of the Joint Policing Committee which was held on 23rd of June.  Again in this instance for some odd reason the Press were locked out.  Nobody was informed of this prior to the meeting and indeed a local community group representing City Quay residents,  was also locked out of the meeting.  In the 14 years i have been in DCC I have never witnessed to such erosion of public and press freedom.  There seems to be a great lack of protocol and procedure as to how the public and press can be removed from what are essentially public meetings.


Therefore this committee noting these concerns, carry out a full review and oversight of such procedures to make sure they are fit for purpose, democratic and fully transparent and are only executed in extraordinary circumstances. 


It’s important to note that in these two incidents it was the media outlet Dublin Live that was excluded and its reporter, Dan Grennan but I am sure if other media outlets turned up or other reporters they would have faced the same exclusion.


Cllr. Mannix Flynn expressed concern that decisions to hold meetings in camera were taken without sufficient justification and without due notification to the Members.


The Chair responded that in the case of the Freedom of the City for Greta Thunberg the request to hold the discussion in camera was submitted by Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy at the meeting due to time constraints and the decision was supported by the Members.


The Members believed that the existing process was satisfactory. The process for holding meetings in camera is laid down in standing orders and is supported in legislation. It is a democratic decision taken by them Members in public and is used infrequently.


Order: The motion was not agreed.