In the past 24 hours I have witnessed some of the most hysterical and ill-informed speculation about the law of libel ever heard outside of the King’s Inns student canteen. We’ve been here before of course.
I don’t wish to pull rank here, and nothing I say should be construed as formal legal advice, but may I respectfully suggest a look at my Irish Times piece on the subject, which appeared around the time of Ratemyteacher‘s brief notoriety. It’s hardly definitive, but it is at least the product of a small amount of research.
If that’s too long, try Digital Rights Ireland’s handy leaflet on the subject.
As for my own view, I’m a staunch freedom-of-speecher, (if it was up to me, I’d have a similar regime as the US, where libel barely exists at all anymore) but we unfortunately live in a country where that freedom is sometimes restricted in the interests of other rights. Those who are keen to fight the good fight would do well to aquaint themselves with what they’re up against. And those not at financial risk would do well to consider if they’d be quite so gung-ho if it was their proverbial on the bacon-slicer.