Section 44 (also here) of the Defamation Act, 2009 (also here) provides that the Minister for Justice may by recognise a body as the “Press Council” , and Schedule 2 (also here) to the Act sets out the minimum requirements such a body must meet to be so recognised. The Irish media established a Press Council of Ireland and the Office of the Press Ombudsman with effect from 1 January 2009. Last month, the Minister announced that this would be recognised as the Press Council for the purposes of the Act. To achieve that end, on Tuesday of this week, both the Dáil and the Seanad approved the draft Defamation Act 2009 (Press Council) Order 2010. The full recognition of the Press Council is now simply the stroke of a Ministerial pen away from being achieved.
According to the Irish Times, the Chairman of the Press Council, Prof Tom Mitchell, said the move would greatly benefit the operations of the Press Council, the Office of the Press Ombudsman and the press generally:
This development will strengthen the council’s capacity to work effectively and will allow the press industry to participate fully without fear of legal risk. Formal recognition of the council should serve to encourage more newspapers and publications to become member publications of the council, leading to wider adherence to its code of practice.