Status: Free
Legal Environment: 3
Political Influences: 7
Economic Pressures: 5
Total Score: 15

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 78
Religious Groups: Roman Catholic (88.4 percent), Church of Ireland (3 percent), other 8.6 percent
Ethnic Groups: Celtic, English minority
Capital: Dublin

Press freedom is constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected in practice. There is a growing movement to enact legislation to regulate the media, particularly in the context of concerns over terrorism and after the unrest following the publication of cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. The National Union of Journalists has called on media publishers to establish self-regulation. Archaic libel and defamation legislation still exists under which journalists remain guilty until proven innocent, causing some journalists to practice self-censorship. For years, the government has promised to reform this law but until recently has lacked the political will to do so. In order to bolster the political drive to reform the defamation law, print media stakeholders compromised with the government over a controversial Press Council – a body intended to regulate media conduct and protect an "ethical standard" of journalism. The controversy surrounding the proposed creation of this Press Council has gained new force after the Sunday Independent published a lurid story that turned out to be false concerning the circumstances of the death of Liam Lawlor, a member of the Irish Parliament jailed three times for defying a public tribunal. The government is more determined than ever to establish a body to prohibit these kinds of stories. The national public broadcaster, Radio Telefis Eireann, dominates the radio and television sectors, but the growth of cable and satellite has begun to weaken the state broadcaster's monopoly over the industry. Internet access is unrestricted by the government, and Ireland is home to over 2 million internet users.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.