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'Shocked', 'A rash decision': staff reaction to closure of Irish Daily Star Sunday

Full-time employees of closed newspaper to hear full details of their redundancies tomorrow – while a number of full-time freelancers also lose work.

Updated 13.16

THE NEWS THAT the Irish Daily Star Sunday would close with immediate effect was met with “shock” by its staff this morning. Seventeen permanent full-time posts will be lost as the sister paper of the Irish Daily Star ceases publication.

However, a number of freelance workers, both reporters, photographers and production staff, will also lose shift work with the newspaper. Some of these freelance employees were working five shifts a week.

One employee said that they had no idea that the paper would shut until they were told at a 9.30am meeting in The Star’s Dundrum offices today. Staff at the Irish Daily Star were officially told of their colleagues’ fate at a meeting scheduled for noon but the news had already filtered out via Twitter and phone calls before 11am.

Irish Daily Star Sunday Editor Des Gibson told TheJournal.ie:

It is devastating news for the paper and for our readers but most of all, our first thoughts are with the staff of Star Sunday and their families.

Another staff member said that they had “not seen it coming” and the mood among staff following the announcement was one of “utter shock”. The staffer said:

Some people had committed to moving from the daily paper to working for the Sunday paper when it launched seven years ago. That’s hard to take.

There will be a consultation process between staff and management in the Burlington Hotel tomorrow over the terms of redundancies and other arrangements. As with the Irish Daily Star, the paper is half-owned by Independent News and Media (INM) and half-owned by Express Newspapers in the UK. Any decision to close would have had to be agreed by both owners.

The Managing Director of Independent Star Ltd., Paul Cooke, said that the decision to close the Irish Daily Star Sunday would have no impact on the Irish Daily Star. The daily paper has a circulation of around 95,000, with an estimated readership of 400,000. The Sunday newspaper had a circulation of between 50-55,000 with a readership of 200,000. While one staff member called the decision to close the paper “rash”, its circulation had dropped by 6 per cent from January to June last year: by the end of October 2010, it had dropped by 8 per cent from the start of the year.

A staff member said that it was clear that Mr Cooke and the editor of the Irish Daily Star, Gerard Colleran, were “devastated” when the news was delivered this morning. In a statement, Mr Cooke said:

This has been a difficult decision and I want to pay tribute to the professionalism and hard work of all the staff of Irish Daily Star Sunday. I also want to acknowledge and thank the advertising and marketing industry in Ireland for their support for the paper.

He said that the “deterioration in market conditions particularly over the last two years has left the company with no option but to cease publication of the Sunday paper”.

The statement added that the Irish Daily Star Sunday, launched in 2003, “never reached the critical mass to be a profitable venture in what is the most competitive day for newspaper titles”.

The Guardian Media section reported this lunchtime that Gareth Morgan, editor of the Daily Star in England which is owned by Express Newspapers, said that the closure of the Irish Daily Star Sunday does not affect his paper. Mr Morgan said:

It’s business as usual here. I’ve reassured the staff here that there’s no problem. It’s absolutely fine. But I’m very sad about the journalists in Dublin who will lose their jobs. I’m devastated for them. It was a joint venture and it’s the Irish who have made the decision.

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