Ruling

Resolution Statement – 17619-23 Barr v The Irish News

    • Date complaint received

      1st June 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement – 17619-23 Barr v The Irish News

 

Summary of Complaint

1. Alan Barr complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Irish News breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Orangemen 'block' St Patrick's Day hill pilgrims”, published on 18 March 2023 and an article headlined “Parades Commission to review with PSNI Orange parade near Slemish on St Patrick's Day”, published on 22 March 2023.

2. The first article – which appeared on the newspaper’s front page – reported on a march on St Patricks day and claimed “thousands of Orangemen marched around […] for several hours” and that “delay and upset” was caused due to this.

3. The first article also appeared online in substantially the same format under the headline “Orange Order parade in Broughshane causes ‘upset and delay’ for trekkers heading for annual St Patrick's Day Slemish pilgrimage”.

4. The second article – which appeared online only – reported on an upcoming review of the same parade, and reported that “some 2,000 Orangemen took to the streets of the village for several hours”.

5. The complainant said that both articles were inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. He said that he had been present for the march, which had lasted approximately one hour and had, at most, 100 participants. The complainant also said the first article was inaccurate to report that there was delay and upset and alternative routes, including shuttle busses, were available.

6. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code. It said that the organisers of the parade had predicted that 2,000 participants and 5,000 spectators were expected to be involved from 12pm to 2pm and then from 3pm to 6pm, and it had based its coverage on this information. It said that it had taken care over the accuracy of the article by contacting the organisers for comment and speaking to various witnesses.

7. The publication also said that the reference to delays and upsets in the first article was clearly attributed to a witness, and was their own opinion of the parade.

Relevant Clause Provisions

Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator. 

iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated Outcome

8. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

9. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to amend the article to make clear the figures were the predicted, rather than the actual number of attendees. It also offered to publish the following wording as a footnote to each online article:

“Our initial reports on the Braid LOL demonstration of March 17 said that it involved thousands of Orangemen. This was based on Braid LOL's formal declaration to the Parades Commission which said that 2,000 participants and 7,000 spectators were expected to assemble. However, we accept that the actual attendance was substantially lower that the figure given to the Parades Commission.” 

10. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

11. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.

 

Date complaint received:  19/03/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  05/05/2023