Chairman of Press Council of Ireland welcomes Oireachtas approval

Wednesday, 21st April 2010
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The approval by both Houses of the Oireachtas today (Tuesday April 20th) of a draft order recognising the Press Council of Ireland under the 2009 Defamation Act will greatly benefit the operations of the Council, the Office of the Press Ombudsman, and the press generally, according to the Chairman of the Council.

The signing of the order in due course by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Dermot Ahern, will complete the process of recognition laid down in the Act.

“This development will strengthen the Council’s capacity to work effectively, and will allow the press industry to participate fully without fear of legal risk,” commented Professor Thomas Mitchell. “Formal recognition of the Council should serve to encourage more newspapers and publications to become member publications of the Council, leading to wider adherence to its Code of Practice.”

“On behalf of the Council, I wish to thank Minister Ahern for bringing the whole process to completion.”
The recognition means that qualified privilege will attach to the Council’s reports and decisions, as well as those of the Press Ombudsman. Newspapers and Magazines subscribing to the Press Council’s Code of Practice will also be able to provide evidence of their membership of the Council, and of their adherence to its Code of Practice, as part their defence in any proceedings for defamation.

Publications that are not members of the Press Council will be not able to avail of the same defence unless they can satisfy a court that they have in place an equivalent fairness regime or operate an equivalent and publicised code of standards.

The Press Council of Ireland, established in 2007 to provide independent regulation of the print media, oversees the Principles embodied in the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines. Currently over 200 titles subscribe to the Code through their membership of the Council.