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Irish weekly closes after 14 years in 'great blow' to region's media diversity

A weekly newspaper in Ireland has blamed the “rapid impact of the internet and free online platforms” on both advertising and circulation revenues as it closed down yesterday after 14 years.

Staff at The Clare People were told that yesterday’s edition of the newspaper, launched by businessmen Domhnal Slattery and Sean Lyne in June 2005, would be its last.

According to the National Union of Journalists, which expressed “grave disappointment” at the closure, the newspaper employed at least 13 people.

The Irish Independent reported that 16 jobs had been lost including ten editorial roles, listing these as the editor, five journalists, three sub-editors and one photographer.

A statement shared on The Clare People’s website and social media pages yesterday announced the closure “with deep sadness and regret” and thanked readers for their support throughout “severe economic and technological headwinds”.

“Unfortunately our newspaper cannot continue to sustain the losses we have incurred in delivering a quality product to the people of Clare on a weekly basis in the face of consistently declining circulation and advertising revenues,” the message reads.

“As a consequence of the rapid impact of the internet and free online platforms, the marketplace for quality local newspapers has changed fundamentally.

“This is a sad day for staff and all who have been part of The Clare People journey. We are immensely proud of the contribution of all our journalists, photographers, sales and marketing teams, admin and office staff have made to our county, our culture and our people for so long.”

County Clare on the west coast of Ireland will continue to be covered by two weeklies – the independently-owned, 116-year-old Clare Champion and The Clare Echo, which launched in October 2017.

The Clare Champion’s report on its rival’s closure said it had become an “integral part of the media fabric” of the county over the past 14 years.

NUJ Irish organiser Ian McGuinness said the union has been in touch with its members who were employed at The Clare People to arrange phone conferences and meetings.

“As Irish organiser, I am working with the union’s South West branch to support our members in the Clare People,” McGuinness said.

“We will be seeking a meeting with management and hope that the company will discharge their responsibilities in a reasonable manner. This is a great blow to the workforce and to media diversity in the region.”

Natasha Barton, a photographer with the paper, tweeted: “Sad day for us all here at The Clare People. It was a great journey with great people.”

The office of the Press Ombudsman of Ireland said it was “sad to see any newspaper closing down”.

“The public is best served with a diversity of news and opinions. Fortunately The Clare Champion is still there to educate, entertain and inform its readers.”

And Peter O’Dwyer, business correspondent at the Sunday Business Post, said on Twitter it was “another sorry day for Irish journalism”.

The Times closed its Ireland edition in June, resulting in the loss of about 20 full-time editorial roles, while the Irish Daily Mail reportedly sought to cull about 35 jobs in the spring.

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