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Political Support for cross-disciplinary Commission of Inquiry ‘welcome, but long overdue’ – Boylan

17 April, 2018 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan is today welcoming political parties calling for a cross-disciplinary Commission of Inquiry on the Irish Media landscape. This was a key recommendation in the 2016 report on the Concentration of Media Ownership in Ireland commissioned by Ms Boylan on behalf of her political group in the European Parliament.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Ms Boylan said:

“I welcome the fact that other political parties are now coming on board to support the recommendations of my report, but what we need now is action not words, if political parties are really serious about addressing this issue which is threatening our democracy. The establishment of a cross-disciplinary Commission of Inquiry will need cross-political support if it is to get up and running.

“The 2016 report shows how Ireland has ‘one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy’, with the two main controlling entities being RTÉ as state broadcaster and ‘individual businessman Denis O’Brien’.

“One of the most worrying aspects of the report notes: ‘sustained and regular threats of legal action by Mr. O’Brien to media organisations and journalists who are engaged in newsgathering or reporting about his activities, and the ‘chilling effect’ of the current defamation laws. This is a toxic combination for freedom of expression and media plurality.’”

Therefore, Ms Boylan argues that the issue goes much further than media ownership:

“It’s crucially important to note that any reform is not just about ownership, the Commission of inquiry should look at media in the modern era and the communicative power of multiple platforms.   It should also include as part of its remit proposals for an independent financial support system for investigative journalism.    

“It is also absolutely essential that any reform of the media landscape in Ireland goes in tandem with reform of the defamation laws which are wholly out of kilter with EU norms.

“Reform of the defamation laws so that they serve to protect not enrich alongside a media that holds those in powerful positions to account is essential to a modern democracy. 

“The public must have access to the truth and journalists and media organisations must feel confident in writing about those stories that are in the public interest without fear of litigation from those with deep pockets. The establishment of a Commission of Inquiry and reform of the defamation laws must happen as a matter of urgency.” 

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