Three local newspapers close in the midlands

Tuesday 28 September 2010 11.41
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Alpha Newspaper Group - Staff informed this afternoon
Alpha Newspaper Group - Staff informed this afternoon
Roscommon Champion - 83 years in print
Roscommon Champion - 83 years in print
Longford News - More than 50 years old
Longford News - More than 50 years old
Athlone Voice - Downturn has effected revenue
Athlone Voice - Downturn has effected revenue

Twenty-five workers at three local newspapers in the Midlands are set to lose their jobs after the owners announced plans to cease publication.

The Roscommon Champion, Longford News and Athlone Voice newspapers will cease publication from this afternoon.

The Alpha Newspaper Group is owned by the former Unionist MP John Taylor and his family.

The group has blamed the economic downturn in the Republic for its decision.

The Roscommon Champion, which has been operating for 83 years, the Longford News and the Athlone Voice will close because of what Alpha has described as an adverse effect from the downturn on circulation and advertising revenue.

Alpha Newspapers had laid off a number of staff and moved layout and design of their Midlands newspaper titles to Northern Ireland in recent months.

As a result there were approximately 25 staff members still employed in the three titles affected by today's announcement that they are going to cease publication.

The workers have told RTÉ News that they are devastated by the news.

The Roscommon Champion was printed for the first time in 1927 and has been printed weekly for 83 years.

The Longford News is more than 50 years old. The Athlone Voice is less than ten years old.

John Taylor purchased the Longford News and Roscommon Champion in 2005 as part of a deal worth €14m.

The sale also included the Tullamore Tribune and Midland Tribune, which were owned by Arnold and Sheila Fanning and are unaffected by today's announcement.

The three papers have now been offered for sale. It is not clear whether any of the staff affected will be offered re-deployment at the newspaper's titles in Northern Ireland.

Local Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten has said that 'the closure of the papers is devastating news for the 40 employees who will lose their jobs, but it is also a major blow for the area.