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Irish Press Council gains new status in defamation cases

26 March 2010

The Irish Minister for Justice has announced an important step in granting an enhanced legal status to the Press Council of Ireland (PCI). Dermot Ahern is to seek parliamentary approval for an Order declaring the formal recognition of the Press Council of Ireland under the terms of the recently enacted Defamation Act.

Once recognition has been granted, member publications of the Press Council will be able to avail of important protections under the Act. The NUJ in Ireland was instrumental in the establishment of the PCI.

The office of the Press Ombudsman and PCI itself is funded by the press industry and, unlike the UK model, the NUJ is directly involved in both the management and code committees. Martin Fitzpatrick, Dublin NUJ branch chair, is the NUJ nominee on the council.

While the Irish model is based on the principle of self-regulation, the council has an in-built majority of non-industry representatives.

A court can take into account the extent to which any publication adheres to the Code of Practice and publishes decisions of the PCI, when deciding whether that publication is entitled to avail of the new defence of 'fair and reasonable publication'.

Tags: , press council of ireland, recognition, defamation