Launch of 2022 Annual Report of the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman
The Chair of the Press Council of Ireland, Rory Montgomery, will today (Wednesday, 4 October) say at the launch of the 2022 Annual Report of the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman that “dramatic events at RTE over the summer have brought the question of the funding of public service media into renewed focus” and that the funding of the Press Council and Office of the Press Ombudsman is suffering a knock-on effect from the loss of revenue within the press industry, its sole funder.
“Our annual budget is in real terms now less than half of what it was when we were founded in 2008,” said Mr Montgomery. “We deliver an efficient and effective service on an ever-shorter shoestring. The Code of Practice which our members are committed to upholding calls on them to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. At a time when they are under acute pressure, the Office of the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council are more important than ever and must be able to do their jobs. This is an issue on which as Chair of the Press Council I will remain vigilant.”
Mr Montgomery also welcomed the recognition afforded to the Press Council in the forthcoming Defamation Bill, and commended the work of Coimisiún na Meán in joining global efforts to make large social media platforms accountable.
The 2022 Report mostly covers a period when the Press Ombudsman was Peter Feeney. It shows that the Office of the Press Ombudsman dealt with 260 complaints, of which nine were resolved by conciliation to the satisfaction of the complainant, while 21 were decided upon by the Ombudsman. Five decisions made by the Press Ombudsman were appealed to the Press Council.
The current Press Ombudsman, Susan McKay, said that in 2024 she will launch a new awareness campaign about the work of her office and the importance of the Press Council’s Code of Practice. She urged politicians and others to show solidarity with the press by using the Office of the Press Ombudsman. “Everyone is entitled to go to the law, but we offer a powerful alternative system of redress,” she said. “One does not rule out the other – my office does not consider complaints while a legal case is ongoing, but there is nothing to stop a person making a complaint under the Press Council’s Code of Practice and following it up by going to law if they so wish.”
Deploring recent incidents of the intimidation of journalists along with the spreading of disinformation as threats to press freedom and democracy, Ms McKay said “All who work in the public interest strive as members of the Press Council to be truthful and fair, and to uphold the rights contained in the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. All who believe in social solidarity reject as members of the Press Council do the ideas of those who seek to stir up hatred on the basis of race, religion, nationality, colour, ethnic origin, membership of the traveling community, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness or age.”