Irish Press Council and Press Ombudsman open for business

An independent watchdog set up to rule on public complaints about the print media in Ireland today officially opened for business.

The Press Council and Press Ombudsman has said it will force publications to print apologies or retractions if a grievance is upheld.

The new complaints bodies – established as an alternative to costly court battles – will not have the power to award compensation.

Former politician and journalist Professor John Horgan was appointed as Ireland’s first Press Ombudsman last August.

His office, which is supported by the print media and National Union of Journalists, is charged with investigating and adjudicating on complaints from the public.

A new Code of Practice agreed by the press industry will be the framework against which all complaints are considered.

Complaints which are not resolved satisfactorily by the Ombudsman can be referred to the 13-member strong Press Council drawn from the public and the media industry.

The Press Council and Press Ombudsman have taken out advertisements in national newspapers to invite the public to contact them if they have a valid complaint.

The independent members of the Press Council are Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link, Mary Kotsonouris, former District Court Judge, John Horgan, former Labour Court Chairman, Maeve McDonagh, Associate Professor of Law in UCC, Dr Eleanor O’Higgins, senior lecturer in UCD and Peter O’Mahony, former CEO of the Irish Refugee Council.

Representing the media are Rosemary Delaney, of WMB Publishing Ltd, Michael Denieffe, managing editor of Independent Newspapers, Martin Fitzpatrick, of the Irish executive council of the NUJ, Michael McNiffe, Irish Sun editor, Eoin McVey, managing editor of The Irish Times and Frank Mulrennan, president of the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland.

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