Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013

105.

Protected communications of member.

105.— (1) A person shall not have access to, or require the disclosure of, a private paper of a member other than—

( a) with the consent in writing of the member, or

( b) subject to subsection (2), where it is determined by the Court, upon application being made to it under this section, that the access or disclosure, as the case may be, is relevant to the investigation of any offence alleged against the member, or is essential by virtue of an overriding public interest arising in the context of proceedings before a court, tribunal, commission or Part 2 inquiry.

(2) The Court shall, in determining under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) whether or not it should make an order providing for access to, or the disclosure of, a private paper of a member, have regard to—

( a) the extent to which the paper relates to a matter of public importance or public interest,

( b) the rights and interests of any member affected,

( c) the rights and interests of any other person who provided information to the member,

( d) the rights and interests of any other person to whom the paper relates,

( e) the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the identity of persons who communicate with members,

( f) the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the contents of private papers, and

( g) any other circumstances that the Court considers relevant.

(3) A person shall not require the disclosure of a confidential communication other than—

( a) with the consent in writing of the member who made or received the communication, or

( b) subject to subsection (4), where it is determined by the Court, upon application being made to it under this section, that the disclosure is relevant to the investigation of any offence alleged against the member, or is essential by virtue of an overriding public interest arising in the context of proceedings before a court, tribunal, commission or Part 2 inquiry.

(4) The Court shall, in determining under paragraph (b) of subsection (3) whether or not it should make an order providing for the disclosure of a confidential communication made by or to a member, have regard to—

( a) the extent to which the communication relates to a matter of public importance or public interest,

( b) the rights and interests of any member affected,

( c) the rights and interests of any other person who provided information to the member,

( d) the rights and interests of any other person to whom the communication relates,

( e) the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the identity of persons who communicate with members,

( f) the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the contents of confidential communications, and

( g) any other circumstances that the Court considers relevant.

(5) Where under this section the Court orders access to, or the disclosure of, a private paper or confidential communication, it shall determine the terms and extent of such access or disclosure, as the case may be.

(6) Without prejudice to the generality of section 107 , a member may give a consent referred to in subsection (1)(a) or (3)(a) without the approval of a House, committee or any other person.

(7) Rules of court shall make provision for the manner in which an application to the Court under this section shall be made.