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The Sunday Independent is a broadsheet Sunday newspaper published in Irelandmarker by Independent News and Media plc. The newspaper is edited by Aengus Fanning, and is the biggest selling Irishmarker Sunday newspaper by a large margin (33.4% of Irish Sunday newspaper readers, according to the Joint National Readership Survey); average circulation of 291,323 between June 2004 and January 2005, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. It is now owned by businessman Anthony O'Reilly, and is part of a worldwide newspaper group that includes The Independent in the United Kingdommarker.


The newspaper is a general Sunday newspaper, covering news and politics. It is published in five sections: News, Sport, Business, Property, and Living, as well as a magazine section. In terms of news, while the newspaper maintains a broadsheet outlook, it has come in for much criticism lately due to its increasing emphasis on lifestyle features in the main section. It has also been criticised for regularly tending towards sensationalism, and for the often opinion-focused, rather than news-focused nature of its articles. It is probably better described as a middle-of-the-road newspaper, rather than a newspaper of record.

Noted for its support for Fianna Fail, and particularly Bertie Ahern, it usually contains articles focused that party and its policies, often at the expense of other political groups in the state. The Government's Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea writes a weekly column for the newspaper.

Prior to Fanning taking charge in 1984 , the newspaper was edited by Michael Hand

Popularly nicknamed The Sindo, the paper has been a passionate critic of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin for many years.

Front page

The front page featured is not the typical format as usually the paper runs with a "bottomer", a satirical analysis of the issues of the day. The main splash story "Slim majority trusts Ahern on Sinn Féin" written by Willie Kealy. The Off-lead "No to Keane as manager" was written by Shane Hickey, Donal Lynch and Ralph Riegel, the paper's Southern Correspondent.The bottom piece about Ireland's oldest university Trinity College Dublinmarker selling Masters Degrees to its graduates was written by Daniel McConnell. The edition's date is 20 November 2005.


The Editorial of the Sunday Independent can be described as right wing and openly pro-British. Major issues often include big government, the size of the public sector, terrorism, and more recently, the Republic's regime of property taxation. It usually features articles by Alan Ruddock, Jody Corcoran, Brendan O'Connor, and, a more recent addition, economist Marc Coleman. Editor Aengus Fanning and Deputy Editor Willie Kealy also sometimes write here.


The newspaper has been the source of many controversies over the years:

The Keane Edge

The Keane Edge was a gossip column written by Terry Keane, a fashion journalist and estranged wife of former Chief Justice of Ireland, Ronan Keane. It was frequently the subject of successful libel actions by persons angered by accusations therein. In it there were often hints of a relationship with a prominent political figure, named in the column as Sweetie. In 1999, it was revealed by Keane on the RTÉ One programme, The Late Late Show, that the figure had been the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey. Keane gave the story as an exclusive to rival newspaper The Sunday Times, while still employed by Independent News and Media. She abruptly left the newspaper (amid much recriminations) and her column continued as Not The Keane Edge, soon renamed The Double Edge.

Mary Ellen Synon controversy

Mary Ellen Synon, a columnist with the newspaper, caused much controversy when she attacked the Paralympic Games as being "perverse", in an article of 22 October 2000. This became the subject of much public debate and lead to the columnist being criticised in the Oireachtas . Initially, the editor, Aengus Fanning, defended the columnist, however he eventually issued an apology, after the then health boards threatened to withdraw advertising from the newspaper. Synon has not written for the newspaper since, although it was denied that she had been dismissed from the newspaper.

The 03 team

The 03 (later 04) team were a group of young female journalists who appeared in the Sunday Independent during 2003 and early 2004. The articles, originally appearing in the Living supplement but soon promoted to the main section, comprised the various members of the team writing usually very poor quality short articles on a common subject. However they were usually accompanied by a large colour group photo of the team posing scantily clad and very occasionally topless. Eventually the feature was dropped, but not before the team had made a television appearance on the RTÉ One show Open House. They occasionally featured as a fantasy figure for fictional Sunday Tribune character Ross O'Carroll-Kelly.

Death of Liam Lawlor

On 22 October, 2005, the controversial Irish politician Liam Lawlor was killed in a road traffic accident in the Khimkimarker district of Moscowmarker during the early hours of Saturday morning. His driver was also killed in the accident, and a female passenger in the back seat of the car was slightly injured. The Sunday Independent edition of 23 October published a story on its front page, written by Ciarán Byrne, Jody Corcoran and Nick Paton Walsh, claiming that Lawlor's car had been travelling "from a red-light district" of Moscow and that police had claimed that the female passenger was a teenage girl who police claimed was "likely to be a prostitute". Reports later during Sunday revealed that the female passenger was actually a 32-year-old Ukrainianmarker national who worked in Praguemarker as a legal secretary and interpreter and who had worked in that role for Lawlor before during previous business trips to Russia. As the furore over the accuracy of the article continued on the Sunday, the article disappeared from the front page of the newspaper's website (although it could still be accessed by specifying its URL), and the PDF copy of the front page of the newspaper (usually available on the website) was also taken down.

On Monday 24 October, the managing director of Independent Newspapers, Michael Denieffe, admitted in an interview on RTÉ Radio 1's lunchtime news programme, News at One, that the report had been "inaccurate" and apologised to the Lawlor family for the distress caused. The original article had by this point disappeared from the website entirely, and the PDF copy of the front page had reappeared on the website with the offending article blanked out.Later that afternoon, the editor of the Sunday Independent, Aengus Fanning, also apologised to the Lawlor family and said that he "took full responsibility" for the inaccurate report. There had been considerable outrage about the report during the day, with calls being made on phone-in radio programmes for a boycott of the newspaper unless the editor and others responsible for the report resigned or were sacked.

On Tuesday 25 October, The Observer, whose Moscow correspondent Nick Paton Walsh had been one of those bylined in the original story, issued a statement acknowledging that there had been "serious discrepancies" in the article it had published (also claiming that the woman concerned was a prostitute), apologised for the distress caused, and removed the article from its website. In addition, Paton Walsh stated that he had had "no hand" in the drafting of the Sunday Independent article. Paton Walsh said that "an editor" in the Sunday Independent had contacted him on the Saturday seeking help to confirm reports that Mr Lawlor had died. Paton Walsh said that he had spoken with an official police spokesperson and relayed only the contents of three conversations with this same person to their newsdesk, saying that he had stressed that it was "only a possibility the girl was a prostitute"..

It was reported on Wednesday 26 October that the interpreter, Julia Kushnir, was seeking apologies from those newspapers who had published erroneous reports that she was a prostitute, and that she was likely to sue for damages if the newspapers did not comply.

The controversy sparked a debate over press standards in Ireland, with the Labour Party Senator Kathleen O'Meara calling for the establishment of a Press Council to monitor standards in the print media. The then Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, stated that the print media coverage of Mr Lawlor's death was "grossly offensive, cruel and lacking in foundation and fact", and that defamation was not enough to deal with this kind of posthumous coverage. He said that legislation was being drafted to establish an appropriate press complaints council.

On 10 June 2006, the Irish Times reported that Kushnir was to sue the Observer, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday Tribune, the Sunday World, the Irish Sunday Mirror, and the Irish Independent over the erroneous claim that she was a prostitute.. On 6 November 2007, the four Irish newspapers agreed to pay Kushnir libel damages totalling €500,000 before libel proceedings began in the Irish High Court and lawyers for the four newspapers apologised in court for the offence caused. The Observer newspaper had earlier settled its libel action for approximately €100,000.

Death of Sgt. Tania Corcoran

The Sunday Independent sparked another furore in March 2007 when the newspaper featured a front page report of the death in childbirth of Garda Sergeant Tania Corcoran. A headline noted that Sgt Corcoran was the wife of the ERU Garda who had fired a fatal shot in the Abbeylara siege, incensing friends and relatives of the couple.

Supporting Bertie Ahern

The newspaper strongly supported Bertie Ahern during the Irish general election, 2007 and continued to support him during his appearances before the Mahon Tribunal. Columnists Eoghan Harris and Brendan O'Connor have been particularly strong in supporting Ahern. In August 2007 Harris was appointed to Seanad Éireann by Ahern. At the same time as supporting Ahern, the newspaper has been strongly critical of Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. Several front page articles, written by Jody Corcoran and Daniel McConnell, have accused him of mishandling the economy since the May 2007 election. According to McConnell's recent articles, Cowen has refused repeatedly to deal with Sunday Independent information requests.


  1. JNRS - Welcome to the Joint National Readership Research Homepage
  2. ABC
  3. Obituary of Michael Hand
  4. "[1]" (PDF)
  5. RTÉ News: Lawlor family 'saddened' by media coverage. RTE.
  7. RTÉ News: Newspaper apologises for Lawlor report
  9. IOL | Call for press watchdog after newspaper apology
  10. RTÉ News: Lawlor's son slams newspaper reports
  11. [2]. The Irish Times Online, 2005.
  12. €500,000 libel damages in Lawlor crash case - The Irish Times - Wed, 7 Nov 2007
  13. " Garda who lost wife and son in childbirth shot John Carthy". The Independent, 11 March 2007. Retrieved on 8 March 2008.
  14. " Newspaper under fire over garda death coverage". Irish Examiner, 13 March 2007. Retrieved on 8 March 2008.

External links

  • Irish News Archive Website The full archives of the Irish Independent (1904-Current), The Sunday Independent (1905-Current), Freeman's Journal (1763-1924) and many more great National, regional and out-of-print newspaper titles are available at the INA website including titles from Irish America.
  • Unison (full content of Independent Newspapers publications including Sunday Independent)
  • Village magazine article on the Sunday Independent.

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