Belfast Telegraph

Alpha Newspaper Group acquires Newry Democrat

By Clare Weir

A Northern Ireland media group has bought a Co Down newspaper just days after shutting three titles in the Republic.

The Newry Democrat newspaper has been bought by the Alpha Newspaper Group, owned by former Unionist MP John Taylor - now Lord Kilclooney - and his family.

It was bought from Thomas Crosbie Holdings, owners of the Irish Examiner - where last week staff were asked to take a 10% pay cut - for an undisclosed sum.

A sister paper, the Down Democrat, was effectively closed by being merged into the Newry paper earlier this year.

Last Tuesday, it was announced that up to 40 workers at the Roscommon Champion, Longford News and Athlone Voice newspapers could lose their jobs.

Staff were told of the immediate closure of the three Midlands titles after last week's editions had gone to press, prompting a strong reaction from the National Union of Journalists about "the lack of consultation or examination of alternatives to closure".

Three days later, Alpha announced it was purchasing the Newry Democrat.

Patrick Short, company secretary of the Alpha Group said: "The Democrat will strengthen the Alpha Group and the Alpha Group will strengthen the Newry Democrat.

"The Democrat will continue with its existing ethos and operate from its present offices in Newry city. Newspread will continue to distribute the Democrat.

"As the Gazette in Armagh city and the Outlook in south Down are both Alpha titles, the addition of the Democrat will provide a cluster of three titles in south Down, Newry city and Armagh city with a total readership of 80,000, which is greater than that provided in the same area by any other daily or group of weekly newspapers."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Short said he would not be drawn on the money paid for the title.