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Communications Minister admits he hasn't read report which criticises media ownership in Ireland

Minister Naughten said he was not sent the report before it was published on Monday.
Oct 26th 2016, 5:16 PM 11,552 71

THE COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER has admitted that he hasn’t read a new report which raises concerns about media ownership in Ireland.

The report, commissioned by Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan for an EU grouping, takes aim at both RTÉ and billionaire media mogul Denis O’Brien.

Commenting on the report in the Irish Examiner this morning, Communications Minister Denis Naughten said it dismissed constitutional issues in Ireland that make it not legally possible to force media owners to sell their outlets.

Boylan responded by saying that Naughten must not have read the report ‘as it does address the constitutional issues’.

Speaking during Parliamentary Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Naughten said:

Have I read the report? No I haven’t.

He added that his department was not given a copy of the report and that it had to print it from a news website during the week.

I understand the report referred to was published last Monday. I was not furnished with a copy in advance of publication, which means I am not in a position to respond comprehensively to its findings.

“We are going through it and I understand it refers to the domination of two media outlets, one controlled by an individual and the other being RTE.”

The report describes Ireland as having “one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy”, with the two main controlling entities being RTÉ as state broadcaster and “individual businessman Denis O’Brien”.

However speaking in the Dáil, Naughten said, “there is an issue in relation to constitutionality”. He said that retrospective legislation and private ownership rights are complex issues, adding, “You can’t just dismiss our Constitution”.

In a statement this afternoon, Dublin MEP Boylan added, ”It is breathtaking that the Minister has decided to continue peddling the idea that constitutional property rights pose a serious barrier to the government tackling the matter of a highly concentrated ownership within Ireland’s media market.

Minister Naughten would do as well to read the report and come back with a legal explanation for his claims over which we can debate instead of making straw arguments and cowering behind the Irish Constitution despite that security blanket being ripped away by this report.

“But if the Minister is so sure that his legal position is correct the question has to be asked – what does he have to fear from the establishment of a commission of inquiry?”

The report was commissioned by Boylan on behalf of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group within the EU Parliament.

Read: ‘Show some backbone’ – new report harshly criticises Ireland’s culture of media ownership>

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Cliodhna Russell

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