‘Irish Sun’ ditches bare breasts on Page 3

Editor cites ‘cultural differences’ in Ireland, as No More Page 3 campaign continues in Britain

The Irish Sun’s page three on Tuesday and yesterday, featuring Dutch model  Sylvie van der Vaart (left) and former Miss World Rosanna Davison wearing swimwear rather than appearing topless. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The Irish Sun’s page three on Tuesday and yesterday, featuring Dutch model Sylvie van der Vaart (left) and former Miss World Rosanna Davison wearing swimwear rather than appearing topless. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Page three of the Irish Sun no longer shows bare breasts. The Irish edition of the Murdoch tabloid has adopted a more covered-up approach to the glamour shot, with this week’s stars including former Miss World Rosanna Davison and Dutch model Sylvie van der Vaart clad in swimwear, with not a single nipple on show.

“Page 3 is a hugely popular pillar of the Sun in the UK and part of a package of great journalism which engages, entertains and informs in equal measure,” says Paul Clarkson, editor of the Irish Sun. “In the Irish Sun we strive to share the qualities that make the newspaper great in print and digital, but we also strive to cater for our own readers’ needs and reflect the cultural differences in Ireland.”

The Dublin office has received a few phone calls inquiring about the change, but only one reader is understood to have demanded its return.

The Irish Sun’s biggest sale day is Saturday, when like the British edition it does not traditionally feature a topless model. The Sun on Sunday does not feature bare breasts in the Irish or British editions either.

The new editor of the Sun, David Dinsmore, recently disappointed anti-Page 3 pressure groups when he said he intended to keep publishing topless pictures because they were a “good way of selling newspapers”.

A campaign by the group No More Page 3, run by Lucy-Anne Holmes, has intensified, however. More than 110,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the Sun to drop Page 3, while 138 MPs – a fifth of the total – have signed a letter to Dinsmore saying they “cannot remain silent in the presence of a page that limits and misrepresents over half the population”. That the largest female image in the most widely read UK newspaper is of a semi-naked woman is “unacceptable”, the letter states, as it reduces women to objects and men to objectifiers. “And it reduces this country to one that upholds 1970s sexist values.”

Dinsmore has described the petition signatories as people who “have never read the Sun”, while former editor Dominic Mohan told the Leveson inquiry the topless photograph was an “innocuous British institution”.

According to UK press reports, the Sun’s executives are privately discussing how Page 3 might be “reinvented”. In February, Rupert Murdoch hinted that he was not wedded to the topless tradition. “You may be right, don’t know but considering,” he tweeted in response to a Twitter user who told him Page 3 was “so last century”.

“Perhaps halfway house with glamorous fashionistas,” he suggested.

The Irish Sun’s snaps of Davison and van der Vaart may be the halfway house he has in mind.

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