Written Answers. - Commission on the Newspaper Industry.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

36 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she expects the newspaper industry to establish a press ombudsman in the near future; the estimated annual cost to establish and run such an office; and if she has any proposals in this regard if the newspaper industry fails to establish a procedure for the investigation of complaints or breaches of press standards. [7011/01]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

78 Mr. Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will introduce legislation to provide for the appointment of an ombudsman for the newspaper industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7103/01]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 and 78 together.

I have no plans to introduce legislation to provide for the appointment of an ombudsman for the newspaper industry. In recommending the establishment of an ombudsman to investigate complaints of breaches of press standards, the Commission on the Newspaper Industry was clear that the ombudsman should be appointed and funded by the newspaper industry. I agree with that recommendation.

I understand that, while some preparatory work has been carried out by the newspaper industry, the recommendation on the establishment of an ombudsman has not yet been implemented. The newspaper industry has always linked its acceptance of the ombudsman proposal to changes in the law on defamation and in that respect I understand from my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform that proposals for legislation on defamation are being prepared in his Department.

I am not in a position to provide any estimate of the costs of establishing and operating the proposed ombudsman. That is a matter for the newspaper industry itself.

I have no reason to doubt the newspaper industry's commitment to implementing the ombudsman recommendation, albeit linked to reform of the law on defamation, and, accordingly, I have no proposals in relation to its failing to do so.