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Former Irish Press group chief executive (73) dies

The former chairman and chief executive of the Irish Press company died yesterday after a long illness.

Vincent Jennings (73) was chairman of the company from 1992 until 2005. He is survived by his wife Mary and children Ian and Melissa.

Mr Jennings died at St Vincent's hospital in Dublin. Funeral arrangements were still being finalised last night.

Once a kingpin of the Irish media industry -- the Press group owned a stable of popular newspapers including the 'Irish Press', 'Evening Press' and 'Sunday Press'.

In the heyday of the 'Irish Press', it was bought by 200,000 people daily but the closure of the three newspapers in 1995 resulted in the loss of 600 jobs.

At the time, Mr Jennings shouldered much of the criticism for the running of the group which closed after a management-union row, following a 10-year decline in circulation and advertising revenue.

In his book 'Press Delete', author Ray Burke, who was the last news editor of the 'Irish Press', recounts that over a period of just 13 years, the newspaper went from a large circulation to that a small provincial newspaper.


The paper had started off in a period of Fianna Fail idealism but lost its connection with its readership, according to the book. Mr Burke wrote that Mr Jennings headed a special group to investigate the future of the firm in 1987 -- the same year the 'Irish Press' lost its editor Tim Pat Coogan after 20 years.

Two years later, the failure to implement a re-launch of the titles and industrial relations problems stemming from inefficient new technologies led to a joint venture with US publishing group Ingersoll Publications. In 1992, Mr Jennings resigned as chief executive on the insistence of Ralph Ingersoll. More recently he was criticised for the poor performance of the Irish Press expansion strategy in the 2000s.

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