In a statement confirming the move, Independent News and Media — the Sunday Tribune’s majority stakeholder — said it had been left with no option but to close the paper altogether after the failure of any investor to take the publication off its hands.
Staff at the paper — which has been running in various formats since 1980 — received a letter from receiver, Jim Luby, yesterday informing them they are to be made redundant next Monday.
INM, which owns 29.9% of Tribune Newspapers plc and is its largest creditor, informed the board of the Sunday Tribune on February 1 that it was no longer in a position to continue providing loan capital.
The salaries of staff and contributors had been paid since the decision was taken at that time to take the publication off the shelves while a rescue operation was mounted.
However, from Monday the paper’s staff will now be joining the growing numbers on the dole.
“This is a very difficult day for the 43 staff of the Sunday Tribune who have worked hard to produce a quality and critically acclaimed title in an incredibly crowded market,” an INM spokesperson said when announcing the decision.
The news comes 31 years after the Sunday Tribune was founded. Despite a reputation for high-quality, award-winning investigative journalism — including the 2009 political expenses exposé — and re-branding attempts to encourage new readers, the paper has saw its circulation levels fall drastically in recent years.
Confirmation of the redundancies comes after the closure of the Star on Sunday title in January, the first national newspaper in Ireland to go bust during the recession.
Earlier this month, when the Sunday Tribune was initially taken off the shelves for a short period in an attempt to revive the title, it was also the subject of a controversial front page “tribute” by the Irish Mail on Sunday.
This mock-up of the Sunday Tribune is now the subject of legal action.
Speaking after hearing the news of its closure, Fine Gael communications spokesperson Leo Varadkar said it was a sad day for Irish journalism.
“The Sunday Tribune has been a credible, informative and independent voice within the Irish media since it was first founded more than 30 years ago.
“Over the last three decades it has broken stories of national importance, and maintained a high standard of integrity.
“It had been hoped that an investor could be found for the paper, but unfortunately it has been confirmed today that no successful offers have been secured.
“This is not only a devastating day for the 43 staff members involved, it is also a sad day for Irish journalism,” he said.