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Article that blamed chlamydia in New Zealand on Irish builders was "inaccurate"

An article attributed rising sexual disease figures to the presence of Irish builders, but the New Zealand Press Council says that was “discriminatory”.

Image: New Zealand via Shutterstock

A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE in New Zealand that linked the rise in chlamydia to the upsurge in Irish construction workers in the country has been criticised by the New Zealand Press Council.

The Press newspaper had printed an article back in October entitled “Luck of the Irish has downside in sex-disease stats”. The piece went on to link health data showing a rise in chlamydia in the Canterbury district to the number of Irish emigrants helping to rebuild Christchurch.

It was illustrated by a cartoon depicting two men in green coats heading into a doorway sign-posted ‘STD Clinic’.

Complaints were made to both The Press and Stuff.co.nz, who had also carried the piece and later the Press Council.

The complainants argued that the linking of the data was inaccurate, a complaint that was upheld.

In their ruling, the New Zealand Press Council notes that the article concedes that there is “no concrete figures” to analyse the spread of the disease.

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“The link between the Irish nationals and the chlamydia statistics was of the newspaper’s making and not supported by any reported information. The Council upholds the complaints on this limb.

“Likewise the headline “Luck of the Irish has downside in sex-disease stats” is inaccurate and this complaint is upheld.”

They also upheld complaints that the piece was discriminatory.

Given the misrepresentation of statistics and the treatment given to the story (headline, cartoon) it is difficult to see the whole as anything but discriminatory against the Irish. This complaint is upheld.

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