There are two specific threats to press freedom in Ireland, according to the Chairperson of the Press Council, Seán Donlon.

He was speaking at the launch of the Press Council of Ireland's annual report.

Mr Donlon said the Defamation Act 2009 has done nothing to reduce disproportionate defamation awards, which he said are having a "chilling effect on press freedom".

He said a review of the Act must address the levels of the awards or some publishers will simply go under.

The second threat, he said, was the growing influence of social media in public life and he called on governments and international organisations such as the EU to address the disproportionate and unaccountable power of social media.

Mr Donlon said that if social media organisations themselves do not take action to ensure they do not undermine democratic systems, then governments will have to bring in supervisory and regulatory measures comparable to that already experienced by the print media.

The Press Council of Ireland received 330 complaints in 2017, up from 261 in the previous year.

The complaints related to articles published in national and local newspapers, magazines and online-only news publications.