NUJ launch 'Stand Up For Journalism' campaign after threats issued
A statement has been published on behalf of the National Union of Journalists in Northern Ireland's three biggest newspapers.
The Belfast Telegraph, The Irish News and The Newsletter joined together to condemn threats made against journalists by paramilitary organisations.
The public statement calls for support and solidarity for press freedom after threats from a loyalist paramilitary were issued to journalists from the Sunday World and Sunday Life newspapers, as well as a threat by dissident republicans to an Irish News journalist.
Threats were also issued by the South Antrim UDA to several Northern Irish politicians including SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, UUP leader Steve Aiken, UUP MLA Doug Beattie, and Alliance Party deputy leader and MP Stephen Farry.
The statement has been supported by most Northern Irish MLAs and MPs, including First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill as well as Secretary of State Brandon Lewis.
NUJ members believe attempts to intimidate journalists have come from dissident Republican and Loyalist paramilitary groups "and are intended to prevent the media from investigating their activities and exposing criminality."
An online petition is also available for members of the public to sign.
An NUJ statement said,
"Attempts have been made to silence public representatives for defending the right to freedom of expression.Public support has sustained journalists during the dark days of the past.
Today we assert the right of our communities to be informed by journalists operating without fear or intimidation.
It is the function of the media to ask difficult questions, to speak truth to power, to expose corruption, to shine a light into dark corners.
Journalists in Northern Ireland will continue to do so.
A free, independent media is a cornerstone of democracy.
No group can be allowed to undermine the freedom of the press. Every effort must be made to ensure that those who are guilty of intimidation are brought to justice."