DublinOpinion thinks Politics.ie has damaged blogging in Ireland.

You couldn’t make this up. And I think it’s very very unfair.

one of enormous significance for the Irish blogging community.


The sheer nuttiness of all of this should not take away from the very sober realization that politics.ie has managed to damage at a fundamental level the Irish blogging world. To say that his actions are irresponsible is to say that sticking your foot in your mouth makes for a gourmet meal.

Put it this way, would YOU argue for self-regulation after this mess?

Dumb and DublinOpinioner.

Myself and Dave Cochrane might disagree on some things, many things but Jesus H Christ and his allstar jazz band, trying to set off the sky is falling alarms because of what happened on one website and subsequent actions of the owner is the most moronic thing I’ve heard this year. Which I had thought was this. The same logic could be used to suggest that a suicide bomber’s actions will be used to regulate and contain anyone that follows Islam. That one website that’s not a fucking blog! can damage all the “Irish Blogging World” suggests to me that Conor in Dublin Opinion has far too high an opinion of blogging and websites.

No blogger or website owner has some kind of duty to every other website owner or blogger or anyone else that types stuff online. Should we hold anyone from one race as accountable for another? Or family or colour or country? But then Conor thinks blogging has a long way to go. I certainly don’t want this long way to go journey to end with me being obliged to blog in a certain way or be self-regulated and kept in check by other bloggers. I owe no duty to other bloggers and if I am stupid and irresponsible then the law can punish me and not some self-appointed online speech police. Don’t like what I say or do? De-link me.

I actually think David Cochrane is owed an apology for those remarks.

Best coverage so far is unsurprisingly on the Cedar Lounge.
Update: Fergal also talks that sense thing.

37 Responses to “DublinOpinion thinks Politics.ie has damaged blogging in Ireland.”

  1. Conor McCabe says:

    you completely missed my point. We’re looking at an internet libel case arising out of this – as far as I know the first one of its kind here, no? Or do you think this is all going to blow over?

  2. Damien says:

    Your point was quoted above.

    Conor, what’s the difference between Libel and Internet Libel? Are you suggesting websites have been immune til now?

  3. Conor McCabe says:

    No. But going by the way politics.ie is carrying on these days, that’s seems to be the impression they have.

    Certainly, David Cochrane seems to believe that by moving his site to America he’s somehow immune from Irish libel. Isn´t that what his whole thing about quoting the American constitution is all about?

    The thing about libel on the net and libel in Ireland is one about jurisdiction, and that is the issue that hasn’t been tested in an Irish court of law. Now, we’re looking at this case being the first case, the test case.

    And I know that politics.ie is not a blog, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have implications for blogging.

    Politics.ie has decided to make this whole episode one about free speech.

    and what exactly is that free speech we’re fighting for? The free speech for anonymous commentators to libel law firms?

  4. Conor McCabe says:

    By the way Damien, I see that you’ve linked to the cedarlounge post about all of this, the one where worldbystom says that he echoes what I said.

  5. Damien says:

    Coverage. Say it again. Coverage. But whatever makes you feel good about yourself. I’d be chuffed too if WBS linked to what I said. Guy is a legend.

  6. Conor McCabe says:

    So. Tell me again. This is about the right to libel law firms, is it?

  7. Damien says:

    Again? I never said it in the first place.

  8. […] decide to tear the Irish interweb a new one, after which amiable Blog Tsar Damo Mulley decides to tear his blogging compadres Dublin Opinion a new one… Can’t we all just be friends? Then there’s the bizarre incident whereupon the Donegal […]

  9. Kenny says:

    Politics.ie have shot themselves in the foot by behaving like juveniles and that could (possibly…) have consequences for other Irish opinion-driven websites in the future. Name calling and posturing because someone with a bit of insight dared to point this out doesn’t really get us anywhere Damien.

    Yeah the law is wrong and litigation is too often a substitute for debate in this country, but that’s the way it is and if P.ie wants to turn this episode into a crusade to right that, well he should have shown a bit of cop-on already.

  10. Conor McCabe says:

    Is this about the right to libel law firms, then?

  11. Fergal says:

    I should remind folks that no libel has been proven. Didn’t we go through all this with El Paso?

  12. AJ says:

    P.ie is not the first nor will it be the last Irish site to be issued with such papers (Flicking over my own folder of them). However in relation to jurisdiction, while moving the server to the US may provide some protection now (Although I doubt this as the operator is an Irish citizen resident in the state), matters that happened before the move would in my opinion be deemed under the jurisprudence of the Irish courts.

    Again this appears to be a form of (not intimidation but a saner word escapes me at present, please feel free to correct me) that the offended parties use often, as they usually know site operators don’t have the cash to run a protracted and expensive legal case.

    I do think the request for names and addresses of posters is a bit unreasonable, the requester should have known that a) this may not be possible and b) aware of data protection laws in Ireland.

  13. […] everyone’s going crazy about […]

  14. Daragh O Brien says:

    Fergal is right to point out that no libel has been proven – so let’s all be careful with what we say and how we say it.

    A few quick points:

    1) Apparently the first case arising from internet libel was reported by RTE in 1999 and resulted in a prison sentence for the defendant.

    2) The first article I’m aware of on the topic in Ireland was written in 2005 in response to the RateMyTeacher’s kerfuffle. It was published in the Irish times and originated from one of the Tuppenceworth quills (lawyers don’t use biros) around the time they were switching to the blog format…

    3) The actions and reactions of the p.ie team are not, in themselves, an argument for or against self-regulation of/by bloggers. What they do highlight is that there is a need for those of us contributing to or moderating discussion fora or blogs which are publicly accessible to make ourselves aware of our legal rights and duties and take appropriate steps to balance our principles (such as freedom of speech), our duties of care to others (such as not to libel them) and our need to pay mortgages and buy food and stuff. If you are going to have contentious posts and comments and operate a light hand on the tiller, seeking to limit your liability is a sensible and prudent thing to do. In that context the lawyers are your friends and can advise you on how best to protect your personal assets (like your family home).

    4) As some guy said in a silicon republic article a while ago: “… there is a tendency for bloggers who are angry about an issue to write before they think – the biggest mistake new bloggers make is they think free speech means you can say what you want, but there are legal implications.”. (Oh, that was you Damien).

    If, as a result of all this bluster, more people wake up to the fact that d’interweb is just like a newspaper, book, tv show, radio programme, song, poster, pamphlet, etc. etc. and you can be sued for things you say then we might see a further maturing of blogging. To talk about ‘internet libel’ as some form of ‘new fangled thing’ misses the point. New medium, old rules.

    5) Ultimately, the more we harp on about all of this more we risk repeating or republishing something libelous. So let’s just see how it plays out. Happy path, P.ie sorts things out with the lawyers and issues any apologies or clarifications that might be required to soothe the situation. Crappy path things go to litigation and we find ourselves with another precedent for what the rules of the game are. However the sky is definitely not falling on bloggers (just yet). The issue of jurisdiction may already have been tried… perhaps one of the legals over at Tuppenceworth could clarify (my brain is rusty at 2am).

    It’s worth pointing out that accusing someone (Person A) of libeling someone (Person B) when that libel against Person B has not been proved could, in itself, be grounds for an action in libel by Person A against you because you will have published statements that could lower person A in the eyes of society.

  15. Fergal says:


    the jurisdictional issue hasn’t been tried in a web-specific context, but the conceptual framework is there I think. There’s authority to the effect that the Tort (this is the vital point to remember, it’s a tort) of libel occurs where the reputation is damaged. So if my reputation is in Ireland, every time a pair of Irish eyeballs hit the page, I suffer damage. Where the page originate is immaterial, so long as it got here, and damaged my good name. I have a case against the defamer if I can find him.
    An English example of this reasoning would be when Robert Maxwell sued the New Republic, on the basis of about 300 UK subscribers (as opposed to tens of thousands in the US). But he resided in the UK and so did his reputation.

    More recently (can’t remember the case name), an Australian court held the Wall Street Journal liable for libel to an Australian resident, via their web edition. The court held that his entire reputation was based in Australia, and hence the damage was done there.

  16. From a security point of view, a reasonably smart (if morally suspect) lawyer will also throw a writ at the ISP, reasonably expecting that most ISPs will lay an egg and shut the site down. Job done.

    What moving the server out of the jurisdiction does get you is removing the ‘distributor’ from the line of fire, and so reducing the risk that any idiot with a shingle can force the site offline by lobbing off a memo.

  17. WorldbyStorm says:

    That’s very good of you Damien… comparing me to a large Tim Currie like creature in a movie with Tom Cruise… I think.

    Conor’s main point was though that the response from DC – shutting down discussion, publishing docs – was over the top… and I don’t disagree with him.

    But all of this is about sense. There was one document which I posted up recently in the Left Archive which referred to the tangled history between FF and the IRA (historically between 27 and 1972). I was a bit leery because it seemed to float a bit close to libel, but after some enquiries I ensured first it was in the National Library (it was) and consulted a few people. The doc wasn’t libellous although there is another one in the NL which potentially is published by the same people around the same time on the same subject. Another example. I was offered a copy of PIRAs “Freedom Struggle”. This was, IIRC, banned in the RoI at one time. Is it wise to digitise it and put it up? I’m not entirely sure still, and would gladly take advice. But the point I’m making is that when in doubt ask… it’s so simple. That way we avoid a situation where people are asking three days later is it legally problematic to publish documentation which may have been considered confidential by one side in a legal dispute.

  18. […] the whole Irish interBloggoForaSolicophere engaged in all out war, it’s important that we avoid being libellous and stick to the fluffy stuff. So […]

  19. […] with the most prominent Irish blogger rounding on you it seems like a good opportunity to use the surge of hits to promote something that is unique in […]

  20. Donagh says:

    Wow Damien, you’re some wind up merchant you are. You left a comment on Dublin Opinion that said: “Wow, Conor just got compared to an apologist of rape. Fucking hell.”

    This is a reference to the comment in the above post where you said that Conor’s post was more moronic than a comic suggesting that he should rape an audience member.

    That is pure incitement Damien. I asked on Dublin Opinion and I ask you now. Do you think, after all the comments last night and today, after you have said on Dublin Opinion that you have changed your view on this, and after WorldbyStorm has said that he agrees with Conor, despite the fact that you suggest otherwise, that Conor’s argument is more moronic than the toxic ad lib made by McSavage?

    I just wanted to clear it up, because you seem to be happy to express opinions on Dublin Opinion that you don’t want to express here.

  21. Damien says:

    Ah DublinOpinionerer. Maybe you guys can’t get subtleties. You guys first back up your argument by saying World By Storm agrees with you and cash on his blog-wide respect and now you guys are apparently using the attention of this blog post to promote a new blog post on the Irish Left Archive. Seems you are basking in the glory of all of this “incitement”.

  22. Donagh says:

    You know, you’re right Damien. In one respect. I’ll kill the link.

    I wouldn’t want to use your blog to promote anything that I’m associated with.

  23. Damien says:

    Awww and in January you were emailing me asking to promote the Irish Left Review on this here blog.

  24. Donagh says:

    Also, I’d be grateful if you remove the pingback, if that’s not asking too much.

  25. Donagh says:

    Yea, of course I did. And I asked others to as well.

  26. Donagh says:

    And in addition…okay, I’m angry now I admit. Your snideness has worked on me.

    I asked you for the name of a developer to work on the site in the first place, which you provided. His name is John Blackbourn and he did a great job and was very pleasant to work with. He helped you with Politics in Ireland and did the redesign of Irish Election.

    What else should I disclose? That I mailed you twice about it and didn’t get a reply? That’s okay, I didn’t get a reply from Mick Fealty or David Cochrane either, as it happens.

    Maybe you’re the only one who is allowed to work on additional projects. Have you even looked at the site Damien.

  27. Damien says:

    Yes Donagh, I was so jealous of the site and people working on additional projects that I gave you details of the best person for the job. Saw the site and love the design. The old left archives are a fantastic resource. I’ll happily remove the pingback. Whatever makes you feel better.

  28. Fergal says:

    Actually, I think think Damien’s comment re rape apologists was in response to something Dan Sullivan said on the Dublin Opinion thread about P.ie getting what was coming to it

  29. Damien says:

    @Fergal I think Donagh got that but would just like me to answer one of those “Have you stopped beating your wife?” style questions but in this case it’s something like “So you think a statement about blogging is worse than rape?”

  30. WorldbyStorm says:

    I’m really uncertain how this has happened but we’re all, me, Donagh, Conor and Damien actually in basic agreement on the core issue. This isn’t good that we appear to be tearing into each other over an interpretation of comments that are slightly to one side of that core issue.

  31. simon says:

    Dear god people. calm down


  32. WorldbyStorm says:

    I once had hair not a million miles from there. But, dear God, not the mustache. Never the mustache…

  33. simon says:


    didn’t put


    that image



  34. Alexia Golez says:

    I agree with Simon. Frayed nerves are not doing anyone, any good.


  35. Alexia Golez says:

    Damien – now, now – don’t be a…

  36. Donagh says:

    Okay, the error is mine in my interpretation of Damien’s comment. Thanks for setting me straight on this Fergal. Damien I take back my inference. It must have been your decision to refer to me as DublinOpinionerer that got me riled despite the fact that we have corresponded perfecly pleasantly through email in the past.

  37. Damien says:

    An apology based on the fact it was initially my fault? Mature.