Press Council of Ireland / Press Ombudsman: Complaints

Please feel free to use the information HERE should you decide to complain to the Irish Press Ombudsman regarding the apparent news blackout regarding the Lisbon Appeals Court decision to overturn the ban on "The Truth of the Lie".

Note that the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent and the Irish News gave extensive coverage to the McCanns battle to censor "The Truth of the Lie".  These three papers have not (to date) reported the ruling to overturn the ban.  (Contact details are at the end of this post.)

(Please use "read more" for more info)

Press Council of Ireland

Code of Practice


The freedom to publish is vital to the right of the people to be informed. This freedom includes the right of a newspaper to publish what it considers to be news, without fear or favour, and the right to comment upon it.

Freedom of the press carries responsibilities. Members of the press have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards.

This Code sets the benchmark for those standards. It is the duty of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council of Ireland to ensure that it is honoured in the spirit as well as in the letter, and it is the duty of publications to assist them in that task.

In dealing with complaints, the Ombudsman and Press Council will give consideration to what they perceive to be the public interest. It is for them to define the public interest in each case, but the general principle is that the public interest is invoked in relation to a matter capable of affecting the people at large so that they may legitimately be interested in receiving and the press legitimately interested in providing information about it.

Principle 1 − Truth and Accuracy

1.1 In reporting news and information, newspapers and periodicals shall strive at all times for truth and accuracy.

1.2 When a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report or picture has been published, it shall be corrected promptly and with due prominence.

1.3 When appropriate, a retraction, apology, clarification, explanation or response shall be published promptly and with due prominence.

Principle 2 − Distinguishing Fact and Comment

2.1 Newspapers and periodicals are entitled to advocate strongly their own views on topics.

2.2 Comment, conjecture, rumour and unconfirmed reports shall not be reported as if they were fact.

2.3 Readers are entitled to expect that the content of a publication reflects the best judgment of editors and writers and has not been inappropriately influenced by undisclosed interests. Wherever relevant, any significant financial interest of an organization should be disclosed. Writers should disclose significant potential conflicts of interest to their editors.

Principle 3 − Fairness and Honesty

3.1 Newspapers and periodicals shall strive at all times for fairness and honesty in the procuring and publishing of news and information.

3.2 Publications shall not obtain information, photographs or other material through misrepresentation or subterfuge, unless justified by the public interest.

3.3 Journalists and photographers must not obtain, or seek to obtain, information and photographs through harassment, unless their actions are justified in the public interest.
Principle 4 − Respect for Rights

Everyone has constitutional protection for his or her good name. Newspapers and periodicals shall not knowingly publish matter based on malicious misrepresentation or unfounded accusations, and must take reasonable care in checking facts before publication.

Principle 5 − Privacy

5.1 Privacy is a human right, protected as a personal right in the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated into Irish law. The private and family life, home and correspondence of everyone must be respected.

5.2 Readers are entitled to have news and comment presented with respect for the privacy and sensibilities of individuals. However, the right to privacy should not prevent publication of matters of public record or in the public interest.

5.3 Sympathy and discretion must be shown at all times in seeking information in situations of personal grief or shock. In publishing such information, the feelings of grieving families should be taken into account. This should not be interpreted as restricting the right to report judicial proceedings.

5.4 Public persons are entitled to privacy. However, where a person holds public office, deals with public affairs, follows a public career, or has sought or obtained publicity for his activities, publication of relevant details of his private life and circumstances may be justifiable where the information revealed relates to the validity of the persons conduct, the credibility of his public statements, the value of his publicly expressed views or is otherwise in the public interest.

5.5 Taking photographs of individuals in private places without their consent is not acceptable, unless justified by the public interest.

Principle 6 − Protection of Sources

Journalists shall protect confidential sources of information.

Principle 7 − Court Reporting

Newspapers and periodicals shall strive to ensure that court reports (including the use of photographs) are fair and accurate, are not prejudicial to the right to a fair trial and that the presumption of innocence is respected.

Principle 8 − Prejudice

Newspapers and periodicals shall not publish material intended or likely to cause grave offence or stir up hatred against an individual or group on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, colour, ethnic origin, membership of the travelling community, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness or age.

Principle 9 − Children

9.1 Newspapers and periodicals shall take particular care in seeking and presenting information or comment about a child under the age of 16.

9.2 Journalists and editors should have regard for the vulnerability of children, and in all dealings with children should bear in mind the age of the child, whether parental or other adult consent has been obtained for such dealings, the sensitivity of the subject-matter, and what circumstances if any make the story one of public interest. Young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion. The fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian must not be used as sole justification for publishing details of a childs private life.

Principle 10 − Publication of the Decision of the Press Ombudsman / Press Council

10.1 When requested or required by the Press Ombudsman and/or the Press Council to do so, newspapers and periodicals shall publish the decision in relation to a complaint with due prominence.

10.2 The content of this Code will be reviewed at regular intervals.


Press Council of Ireland
1, 2 & 3 Westmoreland Street
Dublin 2
Telephone: 01-6489130
Fax: 01-6740046

Independent Press Regulation

What is press regulation?

Press regulation is a way of making sure that member newspapers and magazines comply with an agreed set of ethical standards and behaviours. These standards include things like accuracy, fairness, privacy and other journalistic principles. Behaviour includes things like exercising sympathy and discretion, avoiding harassment, and other aspects of the working life of journalists. They are set out in detail in the Code of Practice.

What happened before now?

Before now, if you had a complaint against the press you had two options.

You could go directly to the publication concerned and ask the editor for an apology. (Our old libel regime, however, meant that editors were often afraid to apologise.) Or you could take a libel action and go to court - a very expensive option, usually only for the wealthy or well-connected. The libel regime has now been changed by the enactment of the Defamation Act 2009, which not only makes it possible for publications to apologise in certain circumstances, but which formally recognises the important role played by the Press Council and the Office of the Press Ombudsman.

Now, with the establishment of the Office of the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council of Ireland, everyone in Ireland has access to an independent press complaints mechanism that is quick, fair and free. This is one of the most positive developments in the history of Ireland's newspaper and magazine industry.

The new complaints mechanism is designed to ensure that the freedom of the press is never abused, and that the public interest is always served. These are the main principles of independent press regulation all around the world.

How does it work?

Press regulation gives people an opportunity to complain to the Office of the Press Ombudsman if they feel that a newspaper or magazine has breached the Code of Practice. The service is free, it's designed to resolve complaints quickly, and because the system is independent, its decisions are always fair. This means it's good for the public... and good for the press.

Why should it be independent?

Independent press regulation is the most objective, credible and transparent form of press regulation. Both the Office of the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council of Ireland are independent of government and, in operation, independent of media. Independent press regulation works best because it relies on the voluntary commitment of newspaper and periodical editors and journalists: by signing up to the Code of Practice, they are promising to adhere to those journalistic principles.

Office of the Press Ombudsman

The Office of the Press Ombudsman is part of a new system of independent regulation for the printed media in Ireland. Our aim is to provide the public with a quick, fair and free method of resolving any complaints they may have in relation to newspapers and magazines published in Ireland that are members of the Press Council of Ireland.

You can complain about any article you see in a member newspaper or magazine/periodical if you think that it breaches the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals and which personally affects you. However, if the article concerned refers to a particular individual or individuals, you have to get their written consent for your complaint.

You can also complain about the behaviour of a journalist if you feel that this behaviour involves a breach of the Code.

The Office of the Press Ombudsman will, in the first instance, attempt to resolve the matter by making direct contact with the editor of the publication concerned. It will outline the complaint to the publication and seek to resolve the mater by a process of conciliation. If conciliation is not possible, the Press Ombudsman will examine the case and make a decision. He may refer significant or complex cases to the Press Council of Ireland.

It does not cost anything to complain to our office.

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