The formal recognition of the Press Council

Press Council and Ombudsman logoThe second Annual Report of the Press Council and the Office of the Press Ombudsman (pdf) was launched yesterday. Speaking at the launch, Dermot Ahern, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, announced that he had, on 21 April, signed the Order granting the Press Council of Ireland recognition as the Press Council for the purposes of the Defamation Act, 2009. The full text of the (Press Council) Order 2009 (SI No 163 of 2010) (pdfs here and here) is as follows [with added links]:

Defamation Act 2009 (Press Council) Order 2009 (SI No 163 of 2010)

I, Dermot Ahern, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, being satisfied that The Press Council of Ireland complies with the minimum requirements specified in Schedule 2 to the Defamation Act, 2009 (No 31 of 2009), hereby, in exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 44 of that Act, make the following order with respect to which, pursuant to subsection (7) of that section, a draft has been laid before each House of the Oireachtas and a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House:

1. This Order may be cited as the Defamation Act 2009 (Press Council) Order 2010.

2. It is declared that The Press Council of Ireland shall be recognised for the purposes of the Defamation Act 2009 (No 31 of 2009) as the Press Council.

Given under my Official Seal,
21 April 2010.

DERMOT AHERN,
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

This is a very important development. It completes the process of recognition for the Press Council under the 2009 Act; it allows the press to participate fully in the Press Council system; and it affords complainants a quick and easy form of redress.

Media reports of the launch focussed on other issues: Ahern criticises media’s Oireachtas coverage (Irish Times); Ahern concerned over press intrusion (Irish Times); Most of 351 complaints against press about truth and accuracy (Irish Times); Press report (Editorial, Irish Times); Ahern lays down the law on Twitter and Facebook lies (Irish Independent); Social media users ‘not exempt from defamation laws’ (Irish Examiner); 5% increase in complaints to Press Council (Irish Examiner).

Bonus link: Simon Singh, who will be speaking at the Science Gallery in TCD on Thursday evening, writes in today’s Telegraph that reform of libel law is long overdue, and in particular, that bolder defences are necessary for those writing about matters in the public interest.

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