1740/2023 - A Woman and the Anglo Celt

By admin
Tuesday, 13th February 2024
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The Press Ombudsman has decided not to uphold a complaint made by a woman about an article published in the Anglo Celt in October 2023.  The article is about protests against the proposed use by the Department of Integration of a building sited in a rural area for the accommodation of asylum seekers. It states that the Department has paused the plan pending further engagement “with interested parties”.  The article quotes statements made during a debate on a motion citing the “unsuitability” of the site at a meeting of Cavan County Council.

The woman complained that the article breached Principle 8 (Prejudice) of the Code of Practice.  She said it was “deliberately provocative and inflammatory” because of the repeated quoted use of the word “paedophile” by local public representatives.  She suggested that the choice of the quotes implied a link between the proposed male asylum seekers and the crime of paedophilia, when there was no evidence that they had any criminal tendencies.  She said she felt that it was intended “to stir up strong feelings of fear and concern” to readers of the article.  She asked for the word to be retracted from the article.  

She said the article was not balanced and gave an entirely negative view of the proposed housing of people seeking shelter in Cavan.  She said this was “totally unrepresentative” of the feelings of the wider community in the area and that many people opposed the protest but kept their feelings to themselves “for fear of intimidation or reprisal”.

The Anglo Celt asserted that the word “paedophile” was used in quotations from Councillors speaking at a County Council meeting.  It said it was not published to provoke or inflame, but rather in the public interest, as people had a right to be informed about what their public representatives were saying so that they “can decide whether to elect them again”.  It said if a Councillor had objected to the use of the word, or spoken against the protesters, it would have reported this, but that it did not happen.  

The publication noted that it had quoted “local residents” but that it did not say “all local residents”, adding that it could not quote views from members of the community if these were not expressed.  It noted that it had tried to contact the owner of the property concerned, and that it had quoted the Department of Integration stating that many communities had “demonstrated great solidarity” with those seeking refuge.


The Press Ombudsman accepts that the publication was acting in the public interest when it quoted Councillors speaking on the public record at a County Council meeting and that this justified the use of the word “paedophile”, which was clearly attributed to those who used it.

She also accepts that the article does not claim that the protesters represented all local residents, and also that those who have not spoken cannot be quoted.  She finds that balance was sought by the publication and to as great an extent as possible provided. She finds that the complainant does not demonstrate that Principle 8 was breached.

16 January 2024