Members of Press Council of Ireland announced

Wednesday, 4th July 2007
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After an extensive period of dialogue and consultation, the members of the inaugural Press Council of Ireland were announced today.

The new Press Council, in tandem with the soon-to-be-established Office of Press Ombudsman, will provide an independent regulatory body for Ireland’s print media.

The Press Council comprises 13 people: an independent Chairman, Professor Thomas Mitchell, and six other independent members, all of whom were chosen through a process of public recruitment; and six other members who have a media background and were appointed following nomination by the industry,

The independent members of the new Press Council of Ireland are:
Professor Thomas Mitchell (Chairman), former Provost of Trinity College Dublin;
Mr Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link;
Ms Mary Kotsonouris, a qualified solicitor and former District Court Judge;
Mr John Horgan, former Chairman of the Labour Court;
Ms Maeve McDonagh, Associate Professor of Law in UCC;
Dr Eleanor O’Higgins, Senior Lecturer in the UCD School of Business; and
Mr Peter O’Mahony, former CEO of the Irish Refugee Council.

The six industry members of the Press Council include:
Ms Rosemary Delaney, Managing Editor of multi-media firm WMB Publishing Ltd;
Mr Michael Denieffe, Managing Editor of Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd;
Mr Martin Fitzpatrick, Treasurer of the Irish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists;
Mr Michael McNiffe, Editor of the Irish Sun;
Mr Eoin McVey, Managing Editor of The Irish Times; and
Mr Frank Mulrennan, President of the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland.

Independent Appointments Committee
All members of the new Press Council were appointed by an independent Appointments Committee consisting of: Dr Miriam Hederman-O’Brien, a former Chairman of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission; Dr Maurice Manning, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission; and Kevin Murphy, former Ombudsman and Information Commissioner. Professor Thomas Mitchell also chaired the independent Appointments Committee.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Professor Mitchell said: “I believe the establishment of a Press Council of Ireland is a significant event in the history of the Irish media, and a very good news story for the Irish public and the press industry in this country.
“We will soon have a complaints procedure that is independent, accessible to all, simple, quick and free,” Professor Mitchell went on. “I believe such a mechanism is essential in today’s society, as an alternative to the courts, for those who feel aggrieved by what they read in newspaper and periodicals.

A new Code of Practice
The establishment of a Press Council means there will be a new Code of Practice for newspapers and magazines, defining the principles that govern the way the print media operates in this country. “By focusing attention on standards, the Press Council will help raise standards,” said Professor Mitchell. “By also highlighting the importance of a vigorous free press in our society, the Council will help to secure the place and freedom of the press.”

The model for setting up an independent Press Council of Ireland was developed by the Press Industry Steering Committee, in consultation with the Department of Justice. Under the terms of the agreed model, both the Press Council and Office of Press Ombudsman will be independent of Government and, in operation, independent of the media.

Model has “support of entire print media”

“I believe that the model evolved by the Steering Committee is workable and robust, and fully capable of meeting the challenges it faces,” said Professor Mitchell. “Our new Press Council draws on international best practice, has the support of the entire print media and the National Union of Journalists, and it has separate legal status as a company which will protect it against statutory or any form of outside interference,” he continued. “It also consists of people who are well qualified for their task, are independently appointed, beholden to nobody, and who will operate at arm’s length from both Government and the industry.

“The Council brings together a great range of talent and considerable diversity of geography, background and expertise,” said Professor Mitchell. “All 13 members are people of achievement, standing and varied experience. I believe all of these factors will give the Council credibility and strong moral authority, and anyone who might seek to undermine it or ignore its judgments can I feel expect an adverse reaction from both press and public.”

Hoping for early passage of new Defamation Bill

Professor Mitchell went on to express his hope that the new Defamation Bill would be passed quickly:“The Council would be further strengthened by early passage of the new Defamation Bill, which has sections relating to the Press Council that were developed in consultation with the previous Minister for Justice, Mr Michael McDowell, and were designed to enhance the effectiveness of the Council.”

Looking back over the three-year period during which the model for establishing a Press Council was developed, Professor Mitchell said: “All of us who are involved in this project have a great sense of optimism and anticipation that this carefully conceived and, in many ways, unique form of regulatory body can provide services and leadership that will not only benefit the public but will also have a benign effect on the course of Irish journalism.”

Professor Mitchell went on to thank the members of the Appointments Committee who, he said, brought “tremendous energy and commitment” to the appointments process. “A wholly independent Appointments Committee is a unique feature of this Press Council and adds greatly to its credibility,” he added.

The Council will now proceed to appoint a Press Ombudsman, and it is hoped the Office of Press Ombudsman and Press Council will be fully operational by the autumn.

The Press Council of Ireland: independent members

Professor Thomas Mitchell (Chairman)
Tom Mitchell is a former Provost of Trinity College. He has a PhD from Cornell University and a Litt.D from Trinity, and holds eight honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and the American Philosophical Society. He is currently
a Director of Atlantic Philanthropies and Chairman of the Board of St.James's Hospital.

Seamus Boland
Seamus is currently CEO of Irish Rural Link. He is a member of the National Social Economic Council and the National Economic Social Forum. He is also a member of the NDP monitoring committee and the monitoring committee of the Border Midland and Regional Assembly. Additionally, he is a member of the Community and Voluntary Pillar at National Social Partnership.

Mary Kotsonouris
Mary is a qualified solicitor and a former District Court Judge. She has published a number of legal books as well as a broad range of articles in newspapers and academic journals. She currently holds the position of Director on the board of Regtel Premium Telecommunications Services Ltd.

John M Horgan
John has 12 years experience in the Labour Court culminating in the position of Chairman. He subsequently has held senior management positions in the aviation, computer and pharmaceutical industries. Currently, he is a self employed Human Resources Consultant providing services to a broad range of clients in both the public and private sector..

Maeve McDonagh
Maeve is a qualified solicitor who is currently an Associate Professor of Law in UCC. Through her research and teaching she has extensive experience in the areas of freedom of information law, privacy/data protection law and human rights law. She has published a number of books, academic papers, conference reports and newspaper articles focusing on these areas. As well as being on a number of the University Committees, Maeve is also a member of the Freedom of Information Users Advisory Committee.

Dr Eleanor O’Higgins
Eleanor is on the faculty of the School of Business at UCD and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She specializes in teaching, research and publications in corporate governance, strategic management, business ethics and corporate social responsibility. She is the author of numerous papers in academic and professional journals, newspaper articles, book chapters and case studies. She is on the editorial boards of a number of international management journals and chairs the Ethics Education Committee of the US Academy of Management. She is a director of Transparency International Ireland and of the Marine Institute. Previously, she worked as a research psychologist at Harvard University Medical School, as a clinical psychologist in the Eastern Health Board, and in staff development management at RTE. She has served on the boards of IDA Ireland and of the Well Woman Group.

Peter O’Mahony
Currently on a sabbatical, Peter was the CEO of the Irish Refugee Council as well as being a member of the board of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism until May 2007. Previous employment experience includes a number of posts in the developing world
with Concern Worldwide and as Field Director for Save the Children Fund.


The Press Council of Ireland: Industry members

Rosemary Delaney
For twenty years, Rosemary has worked across a range of media disciplines including film, radio and magazine publishing. She has worked at senior executive level in the print publishing industry for over a decade. Last year, Rosemary launched her own multi-media business – WMB Publishing
Limited. Her portfolio includes a number of blue chip clients and her flagship title is WMB – Women Mean Business – which is a bi-monthly magazine for businesswomen. From 2003 to 2005, Rosemary was Chairman of the Irish magazine association – PPA Ireland. She remains a Board
Director and on the PPA Ireland Executive. In addition, Rosemary represented magazines on the Press Industry Steering Committee.

Michael Denieffe
Michael Denieffe has been Group Managing Editor of Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd since 2005. A native of Kildare, he was previously IT Director and Pre-Press Manager with the company. He is also a former Editor of the Evening Herald and also held a number of senior editorial positions within the company including Group News Editor, Night Editor of the Irish Independent and Assistant Editor of the Sunday Independent. Michael began his journalistic career with the Leinster Leader in Naas before joining the Evening Herald as a reporter in 1971. He was educated at St. Joseph’s Academy in Kildare, and is married with four children.

Martin Fitzpatrick
Martin Fitzpatrick is the Treasurer of the Irish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists. He is also Chairman of the Union’s Dublin Branch. He was one of two NUJ Representatives on the Press Council Steering Committee which played a key part in the consultation process that gave rise to the Press Council. Martin started in journalism with the Irish Press Group and worked mainly in business journalism. He retired last year from his post as Business Correspondent with the Sunday Independent, a position which he held for 26 years.

Michael McNiffe
Michael McNiffe has been Editor of the Irish Sun and the Sun in Northern Ireland since 2005. Previously, he was Deputy Editor of the Irish Daily Mirror and Assistant Editor of the Sunday World and senior reporter with the Sunday World. He reported for the Daily Star in London and worked
for the then newly-formed Star in Dublin. Before that he was a reporter with the Limerick Post and the Sligo Champion. Michael was educated at Summerhill College, Sligo, and the College of Commerce, Rathmines, Dublin. A native of Dromahair, Co Leitrim, he is married with two children.

Eoin McVey
Eoin McVey is Managing Editor of The Irish Times, and Director of Irish Times Ltd. He first joined the newspaper in 1978. Over a lengthy career he has been Editor of Business Extra, Administration and Planning Editor, and Duty Editor in the Editor’s Office. A native of Dublin, he is married
with three children.

Frank Mulrennan
Frank Mulrennan is currently Group Business Development Director, Celtic Media Group and Director of Operations, Westmeath Examiner Group. He is President of the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland (RNPAI). His previous roles included Managing Director of the
Drogheda Independent Group, owned by Independent News and Media, Business Editor with the Irish Independent, Editor of the Farming Independent and IFA Press Officer.