Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ireland drops six places in world press freedom index

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Ireland has dropped six places in the latest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom index.

Amid concerns over future funding of the media, including RTÉ, RSF finds that “the overall climate for press freedom in Ireland is positive, with journalists able to work freely and without interference”.

Despite the drop in the index, Ireland remains in the top ten countries in the world when it comes to press freedom.

Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland are the top five countries in the index for 2024.

The RSF report references the legal environment in which the media operates in Ireland, and it welcomed “more specific protection for public interest journalism” but did note concerns about the abolition of juries in defamation cases.

It also pointed to criticism of Sinn Féin taking defamation proceedings against journalists.

Reporters Without Borders welcomed the abolition of blasphemy in the 2018 referendum which it said, “made it possible to decriminalise the publication of ‘blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter’ and to abolish the offence of defamation of any religion”.

The report noted concerns about attacks on journalists on social media and said journalists “have reported that their safety has been threatened by criminal groups”.

However, no significant cases have been reported in recent years.

It also said the An Garda Síochána Act of 2005 “had made “interviewing police sources…virtually impossible”.

Overall, RSF found that press freedom around the world “is being threatened by the very people who should be its guarantors – political authorities”.

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