Irish businessman Denis O’Brien sent a letter to Independent Newspapers claiming it has “one of the most concerted and biased campaigns ever waged against any individual” in Ireland, as well as engaging in “pernicious journalism at its worst,” the Irish Times reported.
O’Brien’s spokesperson James Morrissey argued in the letter that the newspaper is trying to “discredit” O’Brien, a “21.6 per cent share” owner of the company. For example, Morrissey says the newspaper publishes “news … merged with comment” and the newspaper doesn’t allow O’Brien “to give his side of the story or defend himself.”
According to the Irish Times, O’Brien previously charged The Independent with bias two years ago and last year, O’Brien “threatened to sue over two articles.” The Irish Times noted that Independent News and Media, the parent company of The Independent, denied the charges of bias and asked O’Brien for comment.
In a separate Irish Times report, Vincent Browne reported that the company “owns over 200 newspapers, more than 130 radio stations, around 100 commercial websites, billboard locations by the hundred and it is the major press conglomerate in five countries,” and that INM owns many Irish newspapers.
After O’Brien’s spokesperson’s letter was sent to the company, Independent News and Media’s chief executive oficer Gavin O’Reilly resigned amidst “mounting tension between him and Denis O’Brien,” the Australian reported. According to the Australian, until his resignation, O’Reilly’s family ran the company for “four decades.”
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Independent News and Media identifies itself as a “leading international newspaper and media group” with “interests” in “Ireland, Northern Ireland and South Africa.”
With his resignation, O’Reilly got a “€1.87m severance payment,” according to the Irish Examiner. O’Brien has called the severance “unduly generous” and described it as “unlawful,” according to the Examiner.
Meanwhile, Pat Rabbitte, Ireland’s minister for communications, highlighted the need for “diversity of ownership” of the media, according to Irish public broadcaster RTE.
We have written to The Independent for more information and will update with any response.