Independent News and Media (INM) has removed the comments section from its main news website Independent.ie to "minimise the legal risk" to its business.
The Irish-listed news publisher has cited Ireland’s “draconian libel awards system” as the primary driver behind the decision.
INM owns a raft of local and national publications including the Irish Independent, the Herald and the Sunday World.
Interim results for the first half of this year showed the company’s operating costs were negatively impacted by roughly €2.5 million in libel awards and costs relating to meeting requirements of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).
A note in the group's interim results, published last month, said: "Operating costs were negatively impacted by the level of recent awards in libel cases, particularly those relating to historic Sunday World cases."
While INM users can no longer comment directly on its website, comments sent through direct email or social media “may still be featured”.