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Parliamentary debate on Celtic Media sale vital, says NUJ

31 January 2017

The NUJ has asked the Oireachtas committee on communications to hold a public hearing into the proposed acquisition of the Celtic Media newspaper group by Independent News and Media plc.

Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, told a seminar hosted by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom that he has written to the committee urging a public hearing so that the committee could make an informed submission to the Broadcast Authority of Ireland (BAI), which is carrying out a phase two investigation into the proposed transaction.

The following is an extract from Seamus Dooley's speech: 

"Today the Oireachtas committee on communications, climate change and environment is scheduled to meet. I have asked the chairperson deputy Hildegarde Naughton to hold public hearings into the proposed Celtic Media transfer to the ownership of Independent News & Media plc.

"The NUJ believes it would be appropriate that the committee should hear from witnesses before it forms a view on the acquisition.

"Under Section 28E of the Competition Act the BAI, in carrying out a Phase 2 examination, must consult the committee. We believe a public hearing would be invaluable. Witnesses would include INM Plc, Celtic Media, Denis O’Brien and the NUJ.

"The committee includes deputy Michael Lowry whose relationship with O'Brien, a significant shareholder in INM plc and Communicorp, was the subject of adverse findings by the Moriarty Tribunal.

"In view of that relationship I have requested the committee chair to ask deputy Lowry to recuse himself from the committee's deliberations on this matter.

"In a sense the story of the Celtic Media titles and the history of the newspapers within the group is the story of the Irish media 'writ small'.

"How the BAI and the government respond to the challenges posed will be an indication of the true value placed on media plurality in Ireland."

Tags: , media ownership, media barons, media plurality, ireland, parliament ireland, independent news and media