World Press Freedom Day 2018 heightens need for Commission of Inquiry – Lynn Boylan MEP
Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan, who previously commissioned an Independent Report on the Concentration of Media Ownership in Ireland, has repeated her calls for a cross-disciplinary Commission of Inquiry into the Irish Media landscape ahead of World Press Freedom Day tomorrow.
Ms Boylan said:
“The 2018 celebration of World Press Freedom Day emphasises the importance of an enabling legal environment for press freedom, giving special attention to the role of an Independent Judiciary in ensuring legal guarantees for press freedom and the protection of journalists."
On the United Nations website, António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General states:
"On World Press Freedom Day 2018, I call on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth."
The Sinn Féin Dublin MEP continued:
“Given the recent scandals at IMN, Ireland’s downward trend in the World Press Freedom index and all of the reports which have been written on Ireland’s media landscape I could not think of a more appropriate day for Minister Naughten to address this.
“Journalists must not live in constant fear of litigation from wealthy individuals. The fact that Ireland has fallen in the recent World Press Freedom index is a very worrying trend but not surprising considering the market domination by Independent News and Media (INM) and RTE.
"The establishment of a Commission of Inquiry and the reform of the defamation laws is now a matter of urgency.
“The Independent report which I had commissioned in 2016 indicated that Ireland has ‘one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy’.
"Furthermore,the report noted the ‘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.
“In another report conducted by Dr. Roderick Flynn of Dublin City University published in March 2016 by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) in Florence, the clustering of media ownership in Ireland was also heavily criticised.
“All of the alarm bells are ringing and the Minister is like Nero fiddling while Rome burns."
The Sinn Féin Dublin MEP concluded:
“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 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.
“How many reports does it take to tell Minister Naughten that we have a serious problem?”