Statement from the Press Ombudsman, Susan McKay, to celebrate World Press Freedom Day (3 May 2024)

By admin
Thursday, 11th April 2024
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On World Press Freedom Day I urge the Government to listen to urgent calls from members of the Press Council and ensure that the long-awaited Defamation Bill is included in the current legislative programme.  The existing law has a chilling effect on the ability of the press to investigate and expose social and political wrong-doing.  At a time when Press Council members are already struggling due to diminished income and the voracity of unregulated social media platforms, even the threat of a defamation suit could lead to costs capable of sinking a publication.  This is bad for the freedom of the press and bad for democracy. 

While I recognise that in some instances individuals will feel compelled to go the legal route to defend their good name,  it is important to note that there is an alternative way to seek redress.  The new law will oblige lawyers to notify clients who are considering taking a defamation case that the Press Council offers a free and relatively swift alternative through the Office of the Press Ombudsman.   All complaints directed to my office will be considered in the light of a Code of Practice founded on a commitment by the press in Ireland to the highest professional and ethical standards.

I would also like to take the opportunity on this day to note that there can be no press freedom where journalists are threatened with violence. In recent times we have seen journalists in this country being menaced and harassed as they do their work of reporting.  Earlier this week I was privileged to read out some of the names of Palestinian journalists killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, at an event organised in Dublin by the NUJ.


Susan McKay

Press Ombudsman

089 6046753