Two newspapers in Dublin, the Northside People and Southside People have suddenly ceased operating with the loss of 17 jobs.
The free newspapers had been in circulation since 1987 until this week, when its owners, the North Dublin Publications Ltd informed its staff that it was closing down.
The company had already suspended production of the papers a few weeks ago as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and the adverse impact it had on the operation of the business and revenues.
It is reported by the Irish Times, that a meeting of creditors will take place on 19th May, and it is expected that a liquidator will be appointed.
The National Union of Journalists, which represents members in the Republic of Ireland, reacted with shock, with Séamus Dooley, the NUJ’s Irish secretary telling a meeting of the Dublin Freelance branch last night, that staff had learned of the decision during a Zoom conference call on Friday and had not been provided with adequate written notice of the decision.
He said; “In announcing the appointment of a liquidator the company confirmed that it had been returned to profitability in 2019 by the new owners, Celtic Media (CMNL) and David Mahon. Sacrifices made by staff contributed significantly to the reversal of fortunes. Their efforts have been rewarded by the directors with the introduction of compulsory redundancies on statutory redundancy terms based on reduced wages. Staff were invited to take part in a Zoom conference with management only to be introduced to the company’s nominee as liquidator.”
“The closure has been attributed to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Workers are angry at the failure of the directors to apply for the Covid-19 scheme or to avail of the financial measures announced by the government at the start of the crisis. This was despite the strong call for the company to do so by the NUJ, supported by staff.”
“The loss of revenue referred to in the statement issued by the company was inevitable once the company decided to cease publication at a time when communities most needed their long established, local paper.”
“On 20 March all staff were laid off with immediate effect due to the Covid-19 crisis and publication of all titles was suspended. All editorial work on the website and social media platforms also ceased on this day. After three decades it is regrettable that a greater effort could not have been made to sustain the newspapers.”
The Northside People has seen recent fame around the world thanks to the popularity of Mrs Brown’s Boys, where protagonist, Agnes Brown is regularly seen reading an issue of the paper, along with a witty-but-fictitious headline.