Press Council defends its role in wake of O'Brien libel action
on 20/02/2013 00:00:00
In a joint statement issued by council chairman Dáithí O'Ceallaigh and Press Ombudsman John Horgan, the council's role in ensuring fairness and impartiality was emphasised.
The statement read: "The Press Council of Ireland and the Press Ombudsman do not comment on current civil or criminal proceedings nor do they consider complaints about any article if the subject matter of the article is at the same time the subject of court proceedings."
However, Mr O'Ceallaigh said he had been spurred to react after receiving a number of requests for a response to recent statements about the council and the Office of the Press Ombudsman "which appear to be based on a lack of knowledge of the record of these institutions, and a lack of awareness of its effectiveness and relevance in the matter of disputes concerning the press".
During the course of the trial against Mr Drury, who is a member of the Press Council, Mr O'Brien described the organisation as "toothless".
In response to this, Mr O'Ceallaigh outlined the two fundamental principles on which the policies of the Press Council and the Office of the Press Ombudsman are based.
"One of these is the importance of a free and vigilant press as an essential component of any democratic society. The other is that the freedom of the press must be exercised within an independent system of accountability and redress."
Mr O'Ceallaigh also pointed out that, as monetary compensation is excluded from the redress the council offers, "all decisions upholding complaints about articles that reflect on the integrity or good name of complainants have been made in favour of individuals whose primary concern has been with the protection of their good name."