Attorney General excused from participation in Limerick school Instagram case

Attorney General Excused From Participation In Limerick School Instagram Case
Facebook had said it would only give out information about account holders on foot of a court order because of data protection concerns
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Ann O'Loughlin

The Attorney General has been excused from participation in a High Court case by a Limerick school seeking to discover who is behind a closed down Instagram account which allegedly made derogatory and defamatory remarks about students and teachers.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons said two weeks ago he wanted the AG to be notified about the case, and possibly participate in it, because of his concerns there may be freedom of speech and public interest issues involved.

On Monday, after hearing submissions from counsel for the AG in relation to the constitutional position and balance of competing rights on those matters, and associated issues, the judge said he was excusing the AG from participation in the case.

He put it in for hearing next February.


The application for orders seeking the identity of the Instagram user is from the board of management of the Salesian Secondary College in Limerick against Facebook Ireland, owners of Instagram.


The court heard previously the application arose out of posts on an Instagram account which was operational for 10 days in October 2019 before it was closed down.

Various images and derogatory comments were posted on it about teachers and children which were inappropriate and some had a sexual context, he said. Gardaí were notified due to the sexual nature of the comments, counsel said.

The school took steps to find out who was behind it and ultimately gained access after obtaining the password from one of the students. However, it was still not possible to find out who was behind it.

Court order

Facebook had said it would only give out information about account holders on foot of a court order because of data protection concerns.

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Facebook did not object to the order being made under a certain form of words which has been used in similar cases where account holders' IDs are divulged by the social media company.

Mr Justice Simons also said on Monday he wanted to be supplied with a copy of the terms and conditions which apply to Instagram accounts. He said the as far as he understood it he was being asked to intervene in a contractual relationship (between Instagram and the user) and he would need to see the terms and conditions of that contract.

Counsel for Facebook said the material will be supplied to the court.


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