Press council plans for Republic

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The Irish Minister for Justice is planning to set up a statutory press council to deal with complaints about the behaviour of the media. It is expected that Michael McDowell will put forward the proposal as part of a reform of the libel laws in the Republic.

A consultation process undertaken by McDowell is expected to conclude early in 2004.

The minister has already indicated his intention to reform the libel laws by allowing the media to plead a defence of “reasonable publication”.

Even if facts subsequently prove to be incorrect, a newspaper will be allowed to plead that it had acted responsibly and in the public interest.

The reform of the Republic’s libel laws were pledged as part of the Government’s election manifesto.

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