The Johnston Press media group has sold its 14 Irish regional newspapers to Iconic Newspapers Limited, a company run by British advertising executive Malcolm Denmark.

It is believed the titles were sold for about €8.5m.

Johnston Press paid about £115m to acquire regional and local papers in Ireland in 2005, including the Limerick Leader, Donegal Democrat and Kilkenny People.

Other titles acquired included the Leinster Leader, Donegal Democrat, Longford Leader, Leitrim Express and The Nationalist.

Johnston’s newspapers in Northern Ireland, such as the Derry Journal and the Ballymena Times, are not included in the sale to Iconic.

The National Union of Journalists welcomed the sale, which it said would “free the Irish regional titles from debt and end a period of uncertainty”.

The union said it would now seek to meet with Iconic Newspapers following the sale.