1. ITV Report

Calls for violent threat against journalist to be lifted

The threat has been made against a journalist working for the Irish News. Credit: Presseye

Dissident republicans have threatened to carry out a violent attack against a Belfast-based journalist, the National Union of Journalists and Amnesty International have said.

The journalist works for the Irish News and the newspaper has reported that the PSNI warned “there was a dissident republican plot to attack them in their own home”.

“Vicious threats against journalists, by any group, at any time, are disgraceful,” Séamus Dooley, from the NUJ, said.

“It is shocking this threat has been made at a time when the NHS staff are trying to save lives and help the vulnerable in our society.”

Mr Dooley said those responsible had issued the threat “in the hope of silencing a specific journalist and journalism in general”.

Let the message be loud and clear to them - all NUJ members condemn this threat and the union will continue to offer the journalist affected our full support and assistance.

The NUJ demands that those issuing this threat lift it immediately.

– Séamus Dooley, NUJ

Amnesty International has also called for the threat to be withdrawn.

Patrick Corrigan, from the organisation, said: “Such threats are not merely an attack on one journalist, they are an attack on the freedom of the press in Northern Ireland.

“All over the world, journalists are arrested, threatened and killed for working in the frontline of defending freedom of expression.

“Right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, journalists are providing an essential public service.”

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Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has also condemned the threat.

“This is another sinister attempt to intimidate journalists and silence the media, which comes in the middle of a public health emergency,” he said.

“This follows a recent spate of despicable threats against journalists and elected representatives.

“Freedom of the press is a key cornerstone of any democratic society and the staff at this paper, like all workers, must be able to do their work free from intimidation or harassment.”

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SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described the threat as “deeply disturbing” and also said it must be lifted immediately.

“The pursuit of truth without fear or favour by journalists is a critical pillar of our democracy and crucial to holding those who exercise power to account,” he said.

“Those seeking to intimidate or to harm journalists have nothing to offer our society.”

Threats have been made in recent months against Sinn Féin politicians, including Mr Kelly and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

Last week, UUP Health Minister Robin Swann was subjected to threatening sectarian messages on social media, resulting in the arrest of a man in Ballymena.