THE 'IRISH Daily Star Sunday' is to cease publication with the loss of 17 jobs, it was announced yesterday.
The newspaper, a joint venture between Independent News & Media and Britain's Express Newspapers Group, opened in 2003 and will publish its last issue this Sunday. Last year it recorded a loss of more than €1m with higher losses slated for this year.
Paul Cooke, managing director for the paper's parent company, Independent Star Limited, said the title had been squeezed by the economic downturn here and continued below-cost selling by UK-based papers.
"This has been a difficult decision and I want to pay tribute to the professionalism and hard work of all the staff of ' Irish Daily Star Sunday'," he said.
"Unfortunately, the deterioration in market conditions, particularly over the last two years, has left the company with no option but to cease publication of the Sunday paper," he added.
The daily paper -- the ' Irish Daily Star' -- is unaffected by the closure.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said it was "surprised" at the announcement and would be seeking talks with management to discuss the closure.
The NUJ's Irish organiser, Nicola Coleman, said: "We would like to discuss alternatives to redundancy including redeployment.
"In a crowded Sunday newspaper market, the 'Irish Daily Star Sunday' has made a distinctive impact and the contribution of journalists on the title has been considerable."
Meanwhile, the future of a regional newspaper business was in doubt last night after losses widened and the company auditors could only give a qualified opinion on the accounts. River Newspapers, whose titles include the 'Letterkenny Post' and 'Donegal Post', reported a retained loss for 2009 of €5.09m compared to €3.3m in 2008.
The company auditors, Flannigan, Edmonds, Bannon, said they could only form a "qualified" opinion on the accounts due to fundamental uncertainty in the business.
River Newspapers debtors owe some €5.6m but that may not be recoverable and there is no provision in the accounts for such a scenario. "These circumstance . . . cast significant doubt on the company's ability to continue," said the auditors.