Clare newspaper's editor resigns

 

The editor of the Clare Champion, Mr Gerry Collison, has resigned after months of growing tensions between him and the paper's owner, Mr John Galvin.

Mr Collison is now expected to head up a new newspaper venture which will challenge the dominant position enjoyed by the Clare Champion in Clare over the past century.

The 49-year old confirmed yesterday that he has been approached by the promoters of the new newspaper, Ennis men Mr Sean Lyne and Mr Domhnall Slattery.

"Approaches have been made and it is something that would interest me."

Mr Collison said that it was inappropriate to talk of the reasons behind his resignation as he was working out a week of his notice at the paper.

Mr John Galvin declined to comment on Mr Collison's resignation.

Last month the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) sanctioned industrial action at the Clare Champion after Mr Galvin, until then general manager, appointed himself as managing editor, with powers of veto over Mr Collison.

Matters came to a head after Mr Galvin served a verbal warning on Mr Collison for publishing a photo of a charity ball organised by the local Soroptimists' club, as it was seen as being in competition with a charity ball being organised by the Clare Champion.

Conciliation talks between the NUJ and the Regional Newspapers Association of Ireland (RNAI) failed to reach a resolution, with Mr Galvin subsequently providing in writing his new role at the paper, which confirmed his powers of veto in editorial matters.

In an interview last month with the NUJ's Journalist magazine, Mr Collison said that he would quit if editorial independence was not guaranteed.

The Co Offaly man spent 25 years at the Ennis-based Clare Champion.

He edited the paper for the past eight years, a period in which it won 34 national awards and saw its circulation rise to 21,317.

The Clare Champion is one of the few remaining family-owned regional newspapers still operating in the country.

It has been owned by the Galvin family since it was established in 1903.

It is understood that plans are well advanced for a new paper and that will not be short of financial resources, as Mr Lyne and Mr Slattery have generated considerable earnings from their involvement in the hotel and aviation sectors respectively.

Mr Lyne, a well-known hotelier, has hotel interests in the Clare and Kerry areas.

He recently jointly purchased the Fitzpatrick Bunratty hotel for €12 million, and he is completing a €10 million redevelopment of the Aberdeen Arms Hotel in Lahinch.