The Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland contains eleven Principles.  The Code states, among other things, that member publications:

  • must strive for truth and accuracy (Principle 1)

  • cannot publish comment or rumour as if it were fact (Principle 2)

  • should not obtain information through misrepresentation, subterfuge or harassment, unless    justified in the public interest (Principle 3)

  • must respect the private family life and home of everyone (Principle 5.3)

  • must strive to ensure that court reports are fair and accurate (Principle 7)

All information in relation to a complaint must be received within three months of the publication of the article, or of the behaviour of a journalist taking place.  

Member publications of the Press Council 

A complaint to the Office of the Press Ombudsman must present evidence that a member publication may have breached one or more of the Principles of the Code of Practice.    Member publications include:

  • All daily and Sunday newspapers published in the Republic of Ireland
  • The majority of local newspapers
  • Many Irish-published magazines
  • Some online news publications
  • The associated digital outlets of member publications

How to make a complaint

You, or somebody you have nominated to act on your behalf, must first complain in writing to the editor of the publication.  You should mark your complaint “Confidential – not for publication”.   It is very important that you address the complaint to the editor.   

If, within two weeks from the date of your complaint to the editor, you do not receive a reply, or you are dissatisfied with the reply you have received, you can then complain in writing to the Office of the Press Ombudsman.  You should let us have a copy of the article, a copy of your correspondence with the editor and an outline of how and why you believe the article breached the Code of Practice.

If the subject matter of your complaint is the subject matter of court proceedings in Ireland, consideration of your complaint will have to be postponed.

Consideration by the Office of the Press Ombudsman

A copy of your complaint will be sent to the editor for her consideration.

If your complaint cannot be resolved to your satisfaction, it will be forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for a decision. 

Decision by the Press Ombudsman

The Press Ombudsman will make a decision on your complaint after considering all of the correspondence on file.   

The Press Ombudsman may decide to uphold your complaint, not to uphold your complaint, that action offered by the editor was sufficient to resolve the complaint, or that she has insufficient evidence before her to make a decision one way or the other.

If you wish, the Press Ombudsman will anonymise her decision so that you cannot be identified.

Instead of making a decision on your complaint, the Press Ombudsman may exercise her discretion to refer the complaint directly to the Press Council of Ireland for decision.  If she does that, the Press Council will then appoint a sub-committee from among its members to consider the complaint.

Appeals procedure

Either party can appeal a decision of the Press Ombudsman or of a sub-committee of the Press Council.    An appeal can be made on one or both grounds: that there has been an error in procedure and / or that there has been an error in the application of the Code of Practice.  Mere disagreement with the decision cannot be grounds for appeal.

Publication of decisions

All decisions of the Press Ombudsman upholding a complaint must be published by the publication concerned along set guidelines laid down by the Press Council (The Publication Guidelines).   

All decisions of the Press Ombudsman are published on the websites of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council, and are circulated to the media generally.

Contact us

You should feel free to contact the Office in advance, by telephone or letter, if you have a query about our complaints process before making a formal complaint.

The Office of the Press Ombudsman, 3 Westland Square, Pearse Street, Dublin D02 N567.

Tel: 01 6489130 or local 1800 208 080