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(From The Irish Times)
The decision of the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, to set up an expert group to report on reforming libel law is a brave and welcome one.
It is brave in that most of his political colleagues would prefer to leave well alone: TDs are active libel litigants with a deep distrust of the media. The decision is welcome in that the expert group will also look at other issues including privacy rights and the idea of a statutory press council.
For the first time, questions of media law have moved out of the ritualistic demands for reform of libel, with a recognition that the relationship of the media to society and the rules that govern it is a complex one.
The basis for libel reform has existed since 1991 when the Law Reform Commission made a number of recommendations, which were not acted upon. The …