Europe: Ireland

Current Status: active


Mr Sean Donlon (chair)

3 Westland Square  

Pearse Street Dublin 2


Tel: +353 1 6489130

Fax: +353 1 6740046




Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman

3 Westland Square

Pearse Street, Dublin 2

D02 N567


The establishment of the Press Council of Ireland on January 1 2008 was one of the most positive developments in the history of Ireland's newspapers and magazines. The objectives of the Press Council are:

  • To provide the public with an independent forum for resolving complaints about the press.
  • To resolve all complaints quickly, fairly and free of charge.
  • To defend the freedom of the press and the freedom of the public to be informed.

Independent press regulation is the most objective, credible and transparent form of press regulation. Both the Press Council and the Press Ombudsman are independent of government and, in operation, independent of the media. Independent press regulation works best because it operates with the cooperation of editors and journalists.  By signing up to the Code of Practice, editors and journalists are promising to adhere to those journalistic principles.


In 2003, a legal advisory group on defamation - established by the Minister for Justice - recommended in its report that the defamation laws be reformed and a statutory press council established.

While the newspaper and magazine industry welcomed news that the defamation laws would be reformed, there was significant opposition to the concept of a statutory press council.  The industry therefore came together and formed the Press Industry Steering Committee comprising representatives of the following organisations:

  • National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI)  - (name changed to NewsBrands Ireland in 2015)
  • Regional Newspapers Association of Ireland (RNAI) - (name changed to Local Ireland in 2014)
  • Periodical Publishers Association of Ireland (PPAI) - (name changed to Magazines Ireland in 2009)
  • National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
  • Irish Editions of UK Titles

The Committee had one key objective - to agree a model for an independent press complaints mechanism. The Committee held their first meeting in January 2004 and operated under the independent chairmanship of Professor Thomas Mitchell, former Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. Senator Maurice Hayes acted as facilitator.

After that first meeting, the Press Industry Steering Committee worked over many meetings towards agreeing a model for the establishment of an Office of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council of Ireland. A Code Committee, comprising representatives from across the industry - including senior editors - agreed a Code of Practice.  Complaints to the Press Ombudsman are based on articles thought to involve a breach of this Code.

Throughout the process, the Press Industry Steering Committee maintained contact and met on several occasions with the Minister for Justice and his officials to ensure that the Department's views were taken into consideration. With the establishment of the Press Council of Ireland in June 2007, and of the Office of the Press Ombudsman in January 2008, the Press Industry Steering Committee ceased its work.

The Press Council of Ireland has 13 members, each of whom is appointed by an independent Appointments Committee.  The Committee was appointed in the first instance by the Press Industry Steering Committee.  Future appointments to the Committee will be made by the Press Council.

The Appointments Committee seeks expressions of interest for the independent members of the Press Council by public advertisment, and chooses for appointment six of those who have responded.  The Chairman is the seventh independent member of the Press Council.  The Committee also appoints six members of the Press Council reserved for individuals with relevant experience of journalism and the press industry, on the basis of nominations received by the press organisations that participated in the Press Industry Steering Committee.  

The members of the first Appointments Committee were:

  • Professor Thomas Mitchell (Chairman), Former Provost of Trinity College Dublin
  • Dr Maurice Manning, President, Irish Human Rights Commission
  • Dr Miriam Hederman O'Brien, Former Chairman of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission and the Commission on Taxation
  • Mr Kevin Murphy, Former Ombudsman and Information Commissioner

In August 2010 Professor Mitchell was replaced by the new Press Council Chairman, Mr Daithi O'Ceallaigh, and the late Mr Kevin Murphy was replaced by Mr David Begg in 2012.

With the establishment of the Office of the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council of Ireland, and with its objective achieved, the Press Industry Steering Committee ceased its work in 2007.


The first Chairman of the Press Council, Professor Thomas Mitchell, was appointed by the Press Industry Steering Committee at the time of the establishment of the Council in 2007.  Subsequent Chairmen are appointed by the Press Council itself.  

The second Chairman of the Press Council, Daithi O'Ceallaigh, was appointed by the Press Council in August 2010.


Updated: 17/08/2017