Sinn Féin ministers three identical complaints against the Irish News over Queen's honours dismissed by Ipso
THREE Sinn Féin ministers who brought cases to a press watchdog over an Irish News story on the honours system have had their complaints dismissed.
Education minister John O'Dowd, culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín and agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill all contacted complaints body IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation) claiming the January 28 article, headlined 'Sinn Féin criticised after ministers wave through royal honours', breached the Editors' Code of Practice.
The story reported criticism of the party over 44 nominees proposed by the three departments for the 2016 new year honours list despite its public opposition to the awards.
It emerged that nearly a third of all 159 nominations by the Stormont executive were put forward by Sinn Féin-led departments.
While the party denied its ministers participate in the process, a former senior civil servant said the nominations could not proceed without a minister's approval.
All three ministers were offered the right of reply to the article through either an interview or a letter to the editor.
However, instead - in a highly unusual development - the trio separately instigated formal complaints to IPSO.
The IPSO executive "completed an assessment" of the complaints under the terms of the code.
Its conclusion was: "Having considered the points you have raised in full, we have concluded that your complaint does not raise a possible breach of the code."
The body did not find it necessary to ask The Irish News to submit a response - a clear indication that the complaints were firmly rejected.
It explained to the ministers that: "In circumstances where nominations for royal honours did come through the departments of Sinn Féin ministers, and where the article made clear the basis for the criticism as well as including a statement from the party explaining the nature of its ministers' participation in the honours system, we did not consider that the headlines on either versions of the article gave a significantly misleading impression of your role in the honours system.
"As such, your complaint did not raise a possible breach of Clause 1."