Unions welcome Irish Times engagement on proposed Landmark deal

Acquisition ‘has to be good for Irish journalism’, says former Irish Examiner editor

The Irish Times pictured with copies of titles owned by Landmark Media Investments. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

The Irish Times pictured with copies of titles owned by Landmark Media Investments. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

The Dublin Print Group of Unions has welcomed a commitment from the Irish Times DAC that it will honour existing agreements with trade unions as it moves to buy Landmark Media Investments, the publisher of the Irish Examiner.

The group, which includes Siptu, the National Union of Journalists and the Technical Engineering & Electrical Union, met management of The Irish Times on Thursday to discuss its proposed acquisition of Landmark, announced on Wednesday.

“The Dublin Print Group of Unions welcomes the positive engagement and the specific guarantee that all agreements will be honoured,” said Séamus Dooley, vice-chairman of the group.

The Irish Times human resources director Majella Gallagher said the company welcomed the opportunity of working with Landmark and its unions.

“We remain fully committed to working through partnership and consultation on our shared goal of creating a sustainable future for both of these Irish media organisations,” she said.

Regulatory approvals

As well as the Irish Examiner, the Cork-based group includes the daily Evening Echo, seven regional titles, digital assets and stakes in three radio stations. The deal will not be finalised until The Irish Times receives various regulatory approvals in a process that will take at least four months.

Acting editor Allan Prosser wrote in the Irish Examiner on Thursday that the title would “remain part of the fabric of life and a friend and companion” to its readers.

“The nation needs, for balance and perspective, a daily publishing centre and wielder of influence beyond the confines of Dublin,” he wrote. “The Examiner has broken many stories of national importance and resonance and will continue to do so.”

The address given by Landmark’s main shareholder Tom Crosbie to the newsroom floor on Wednesday was described as “emotional”.

Former Irish Examiner editor Tim Vaughan, who left Landmark in 2016, said the acquisition “has to be good for Irish journalism”, rather than a setback for media diversity.

“A year or two from now, The Irish Times will continue to be The Irish Times and The Irish Examiner will continue to be The Irish Examiner – but they will be able to cooperate and assist each other in ways they haven’t been able to do before, which will benefit both titles,” he said.

Mr Vaughan wrote on his LinkedIn profile that the news was “a sad day for Ted and Tom Crosbie, but a positive development for maintaining diversity and strong, independent and courageous journalism”. He added that it had been a privilege to serve as editor for more than 15 years.

‘Hopeful’

Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy said he was “hopeful” that the business would be better supported as part of a larger organisation “that has the capacity to invest”.

“It was widely recognised that the company had debt-related financial challenges, so in that sense this announcement is positive. It is very important that Cork will continue to have a role in the national media,” Mr Healy said.

Landmark Media Investments group chief executive Tom Murphy has said he will leave the business on the completion of the deal.

The company, owned by Mr Crosbie and his father Ted, employs 410 people, with 260 based in Cork. Earlier this year, Wexford Echo Limited, which was part of the group, was put into liquidation. Staff numbers have fallen from 554 at the time that Thomas Crosbie Holdings was put into receivership in 2013.