Written Answers - Crime Scene Photography.

Thursday, 26 May 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 603 No. 2

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  122.  Mr. Rabbitte  Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte   asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell   if his attention has been drawn to the numerous graphic photographs published in newspapers of the body of a person (details supplied); the responsibilities of the Garda Síochána in such circumstances; if provisions of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004 or the proposed defamation Bill will be relevant to such situations; if not, if he proposes to amend either of those Bills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17688/05]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  I am aware of the newspaper photographs referred to by the Deputy.

I am informed that on the day in question the crime scene was immediately sealed off by the Garda authorities with a number of adjacent streets included in the cordon area. In addition, direct action was taken by gardaí at the scene to ensure there was no encroachment by reporters or photographers at the scene. I am assured that no assistance was given at the scene by gardaí to enable such photographs to be taken.

I understand that the photographs in question were taken by photographers lying on the ground outside the cordoned area with suitable camera equipment. These cameras were apparently fixed on the crime scene tent awaiting an opportunity to take photographs when crime scene examiners were entering and leaving the tent.

The issue of whether to publish certain photographs rests with the editors of newspapers. The proposed code of standards being developed by the press industry steering committee, in the context of the creation of an independent press council, might usefully address this issue. There are no specific provisions in this regard in the proposed defamation Bill or in the Garda Síochána Bill 2004.


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