ONE of the main newspapers for Irish immigrants in the UK is to be shut down, it was announced yesterday.
The 'Irish Post' is to close after more than 40 years with the loss of 10 jobs, said its owner Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH). Its last issue was published this week and a liquidator has been appointed.
In a statement, TCH, which counts the 'Irish Examiner' and the 'Sunday Business Post' among its titles, said the closure was the "result of the severe economic downturn and significantly reduced advertising revenues".
TCH's regional newspapers chief executive, Dan Linehan, paid tribute to the newspaper's staff.
"They have been part of our group for eight years and they have tried very hard to make the newspaper work. Regrettably, persistent trading losses and the current economic climate have made the title unsustainable."
Originally set up in 1970 by journalist Breandan Mac Lua and accountant Tom Beatty, the weekly title was seen as a key factor in developing the Irish community in Britain and kept them in touch with home long before the internet made access to news from Ireland much easier.
The rise of the internet and the perception of an ageing readership hit the newspaper hard though.
When TCH bought it from Jefferson Smurfit for £1.7m (€1.94m) in 2003, it had an audited circulation of more than 31,400. That had nearly halved in the ensuing eight years, with the most recent data showing circulation of only 17,100.
The closure is another blow to TCH, which has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn.
Staff at the 'Sunday Business Post' were hit with two wage cuts last year while workers at the 'Irish Examiner' and Cork's 'Evening Echo' took a 10pc wage cut and had their pensions cut by up to 50pc.
The group has sold or closed a number of its regional titles in recent years, with the 'Sligo Weekender' and 'Newry Democrat' being sold, while Kerry's 'The Kingdom' was closed.
Earlier this month, Mairead Maher surprisingly resigned as chief executive of the 'Examiner' after just over a year to take up a position with a Cork-based advertising agency.
In 2009, the media company posted a loss after exceptional items of more than €38m while the group said it would not be profitable in 2010 either.
Readership of the 'Examiner' fell by 17.16pc year-on-year to 169,000 while the 'Sunday Business Post' saw its readership slump by 15pc to 164,000, according to the most recent JNRS survey.