The membership of the Press Council of Ireland was announced today (Blurred Keys | Breaking News | Media Forum | RTÉ | the press release pdf is here). Their first job will be to fill the position of Press Ombudsman. Once that is done, the Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman can be formally launched as an independent regulatory mechanism for Irelandâ€™s print (though not broadcast) media. When they are up and running, the Press Council and Ombudsman will allow a quick avenue of complaint against newspapers for breaching the Code of Practice (pp 10-13 of this pdf). Complaints will go in the first instance to the Ombudsman, though complex cases and appeals from the Ombudsman will go to the Council.
Following a competitive and open appointments process, the membership, appointed by an independent appointments committee, will comprise:
The six independent members
- Mr Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link;
- Ms Mary Kotsonouris, retired District Court Judge;
- Mr John Horgan, former Chairman of the Labour Court;
- Prof Maeve McDonagh, Faculty of Law, UCC;
- Dr Eleanor Oâ€™Higgins, Senior Lecturer, School of Business, UCD;
- Mr Peter Oâ€™Mahony, former CEO of the Irish Refugee Council;
The six industry members
- Ms Rosemary Delaney, Managing Editor of multi-media firm WMB Publishing Ltd;
- Mr Michael Denieffe, Managing Editor of Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd;
- Mr Martin Fitzpatrick, Treasurer of the Irish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists;
- Mr Michael McNiffe, Editor of the Irish Sun;
- Mr Eoin McVey, Managing Editor of The Irish Times;
- Mr Frank Mulrennan, President of the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland.
This is a most welcome development; the press industry are to be commended for going ahead with this even before the stalled Defamation Bill, 2006 becomes law.
Update 1 (5 July 2007): from today’s Irish Times (sub req’d), a piece by Alison Healy speculating that the Press Council could start work by November, and this photo by Alan Betson of the members of the Council at yesterday’s announcement:
Back row, left to right: John Horgan, Rosemary Delaney, Peter O’Mahony, Michael McNiffe, Michael Denieffe, Maeve McDonagh, Seamus Boland.
Front row, left to right: Eleanor O’Higgins, Thomas Mitchell, Mary Kotsonouris, Martin Fitzpatrick.
Not present: Eoin McVey, Frank Mulrennan.
Click on the picture for the full size version on the Irish Times site.
Update 2 (5 July 2007): Roy Greenslade wonders whether Ireland’s press council [is] an imitation of the PCC, and concludes
I think the ombusdman and Professor Mitchell are going to find it very difficult indeed to police the line between what should, and should not, be published in the public interest. That, of course, is yet another PCC echo.