Rabbitte: public persons should not 'reach for defamation laws' easily

The Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, has hit out at the notion that people involved in public debate should "reach for the defamation laws" to vindicate their points of view.

"Especially if you are a public person, in the sense of being a columnist - the notion that you're such a fragile creature that you have to reach for the defamation laws in order to vindicate your point of view is wrong," he said.

"It is important that RTÉ as a public service broadcaster discharges their responsibility to have these issues ventilated without fear or favour."

The minister was re-iterating points he raised in a statement issued by his department last week.

It comes amid reports that RTE paid out €85,000 following comments made during a discussion on homophobia on the Saturday Night Show.

The settlement and an apology that was also issued sparked hundreds of complaints.

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