Family Law courts to allow press access

Donegal Town Courthouse

Donegal Town Courthouse

There has been mixed reaction from Donegal legal representatives to a new order allowing the press to attend Family Law hearings.

Since Monday journalists have been allowed to report on family law court proceedings after Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, signed an order easing the ban on reporting such cases with strict restrictions in place not to identify those involved.

Maureen McCartney of Gallagher McCartney Solicitors in Donegal Town, says she welcomes the decision as it will allow greater transparency of how cases are conducted.

Up until now the press have been excluded.

Mrs McCartney said: “I would welcome it in terms of transparency in that everyone has access to information of how the courts operate, whether that is family proceedings or otherwise.”

She said in future, reporting on the outcomes of such cases could “be much more informative” for the public, but added the new situation will “not be without difficulties”.

Mrs McCartney, who is also the President of the Donegal Bar Association, said: “The reporting on the outcome of such cases can be more informative, or people can relate to that easier than actual legal advise on particular matters. I think it is not without difficulties and I do think there is significant issues for how the courts and judges implement the new regime”.

Letterkenny based solicitor Frank Dorrian said such cases should not be the subject of media reports, even if the identities are protected.

“I don’t think that the subject matter is for public consumption. I don’t see how it is in the public interest to have a report on someone’s matrimonial differences. It’s inherently a private matter.”

Under the new law, the courts will retain the power to exclude journalists or to restrict reporting in certain circumstances.


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