Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (451)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

451. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether the Press Council has sufficient powers to enable them to balance press freedom with accuracy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12571/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The print media is regulated by an independent Press Council. Section 44 of the Defamation Act 2009 provides for the Minister for Justice and Equality to make an Order, subject to the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas granting statutory recognition as a Press Council to a body that seeks recognition as such. It requires that the Minister be satisfied that the applicant body complies with the provisions set out in Schedule 2. No more than one such body can be recognised and the order may be revoked. On 21 April, 2010, the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform signed the Defamation Act 2009 (Press Council) Order 2010 (S.I. No. 163 of 2010) granting recognition to the Press Council of Ireland. e Order took immediate effect.

e new complaints system which is operated by the Press Council recognised pursuant to the Defamation Act is, I believe, providing a useful, efficient and cost free remedy for members of the public who are affected by breaches of the Code of Practice.

Formal recognition of the Press Council grants qualified privilege to the decisions and reports of the Press Council and the Press Ombudsman. is strengthens and underpins the system of press regulation in Ireland which can only serve to improve the service to the general public.

It is appropriate that strong emphasis is being placed by the Press Council and Ombudsman on resolving complaints through conciliation or mediation. Moreover, the print industry is, in general, committed to the press complaints initiative and has provided the necessary financial backing to support its operation. is cooperation is vital to the long term success of the new Irish press complaints system.

A most important requirement is that publications that are members of the Press Council have to publish in full, decisions of either the Press Ombudsman or the Press Council, which uphold complaints made under the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals.

A review of the operation of the Defamation Act 2009 is required within five years of its coming into operation.