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Ireland drops in World Press Freedom Index – Boylan

26 April, 2017 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has said it is disappointing, but not surprising, to see Ireland had dropped five places in the World Press Freedom Index.

MEP Boylan said:

“Published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders, the World Press Freedom Index is an important tool for measuring the health of journalism and press freedom throughout countries around the world.

“The Paris based NGO, which has consultant status at the United Nations, has today issued its World Press Freedom Index for 2017. It investigated freedom of media and journalists in 180 countries and found democracies, as well as dictatorships, had increasingly clamped down on press freedom.

“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Ireland has dropped five places from its 2016 ranking.

“The main reason given for Ireland’s five place slump was an issue which I, and many more, have been raising for some years now - that there is an extremely unhealthy concentration of media ownership in the state.

“In its chapter on Ireland the report stated that ‘the highly concentrated nature of media ownership in Ireland poses a major threat to press freedom’. In outlining the problem it went on to point out an example of the concentration of ownership in that ‘Independent News and Media (INM) controls 40% of the daily and Sunday newspaper market’.

“The findings of the Index come on the back of an Independent Report last year on the concentration of media ownership in Ireland by legal professionals from KRW Law and Doughty Street Chambers which unequivocally stated that: ‘...there are extremely grave concerns about the high concentration of media ownership in the Irish market, and in particular regarding the position of INM and Mr. Denis O’Brien. Accumulation of communicative power within the news markets is at endemic levels and so Ireland has one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy...’

“Additionally, an EU funded report published by the European Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom in March also found that Ireland is in the ‘high risk’ category for concentration of media ownership.

“An open and diverse media is crucial to the health of any democracy. We need a media that holds those in powerful positions to account, one that seeks the truth and ensures that the public has access to the truth.

“For some time now, there has been a litany of reports highlighting the dangers and problems that the concentration of media ownership is having in Ireland and how it is damaging our democracy.

“It is time for Minister Denis Naughten to seize the opportunity and to address the issue of media ownership in Ireland.

“I believe that it is now time to establish the multi-disciplinary commission of inquiry to look at the media landscape in Ireland as called for by the NUJ.

“The Minister and all politicians must now show the political backbone required to take on those in dominant positions.” 

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