Politicians from across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland and Britain have joined in a campaign to condemn threats of violence against journalists in the province.
Under the banner of Stand Up For Journalism, members of the NI Assembly, the UK Parliament and a host of other organisations have added their names to the campaign which has seen full page statements carried in newspapers and across media.
The campaign is also supported by trade union bodies, the NUJ, as well as the Society of Editors.
Signatories include Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin.
In a statement, Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors said: “Journalists put themselves in the frontline to bring the public the news they need. For the men of violence to target them for such courage is beneath contempt and every voice should be raised in protest.”
The campaign follows threats issued to journalists working at the Sunday Life and Sunday World newspapers in Belfast by loyalist paramilitaries. This followed recent threats against journalists working for the Irish News.
Today’s statement outlined the media response to remain firm in the face of threats.
“Over the past 12 months we have witnessed with alarm an increase in the number of violent threats against journalists in Northern Ireland.
“This month Loyalist paramilitaries have threatened all journalists working at the Sunday Life and Sunday World newspapers in Belfast. This follows recent threats against journalists working for the Irish News. 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.
“Threats against journalists and media organisations have no place in our society. It is vital that such behaviour is not tolerated. No worker should be exposed to threats for doing their job. At a time when the media is playing such an important role in covering the terrible Covid-19 pandemic the recent, blanket threat is especially worrying. Elected politicians who criticised the threats have now become the subject of intimidation from groups without any mandate.
“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. We call for the immediate withdrawal of all threats against journalists in Northern Ireland and for the freedom of the press to be respected and protected.”
Those supporting the campaign include:
Public Representatives MLAs:
Arlene Foster: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland. Michelle O’Neill: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin, Deputy First Minister. Alex Maskey: West Belfast, Sinn Féin. Andrew Muir: North Down, Alliance Party. Andy Allen MBE: East Belfast, UUP. Caoimhe Archibald: East Derry, Sinn Féin. Carál Ní Chuilín: North Belfast, Sinn Féin. Cathal Boylan: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin. Catherine Kelly: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin. Chris Lyttle: East Belfast, Alliance Party. Colin McGrath: South Down, SDLP. Colm Gildernew: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin. Conor Murphy: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin. David Hilditch: East Antrim, DUP. Declan McAleer: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin. Declan Kearney: South Antrim, Sinn Féin. Deirdre Hargey: South Belfast, Sinn Féin. Diane Dodds: Upper Bann, DUP. Doug Beattie: Upper Bann, UUP. Emma Rogan: South Down, Sinn Féin. Emma Sheerin: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin. Fra McCann: West Belfast, Sinn Féin . Gary Middleton: Foyle, DU.P Gerry Carroll: West Belfast, People Before Profit. Gerry Kelly: North Belfast, Sinn Féin. Gordon Lyons: East Antrim, DUP. Jemma Dolan: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin. Joanne Bunting: East Belfast, DUP . John Blair: South Antrim, Alliance Party. John O’Dowd: Upper Bann, Sinn Féin. Karen Mullan: Foyle, Sinn Féin. Keith Buchanan: Mid Ulster, DUP. Kellie Armstrong: Strangford, Alliance Party. Linda Dillon: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin. Liz Kimmins: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin. Maolíosa McHugh: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin. Mark H Durkan: Foyle, SDLP. Martina Anderson: Foyle, Sinn Féin. Maurice Bradley: East Londonderry, DUP. Mike Nesbitt: Strangford, UUP. Naomi Long: East Belfast, leader of Alliance Party. Órlaithí Flynn; West Belfast, Sinn Féin. Pam Cameron: South Antrim, DUP. Pat Sheehan: West Belfast, Sinn Féin. Paul Frew: North Antrim, DUP. Paula Bradley: North Belfast, DUP. Paula Bradshaw: South Belfast, Alliance Party Peter Weir: Strangford, DUP. Philip McGuigan: North Antrim, Sinn Féin. Robbie Butler: Lagan Valley, UUP. Roy Beggs: East Antrim, UUP. Sean Lynch: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin. Sinéad Ennis: South Down, Sinn Féin. Steve Aiken: South Antrim, leader of UUP. Stewart Dickson: East Antrim, Alliance Party. William Humphrey: North Belfast, DUP. William Irwin: Newry and Armagh, DUP.
Members of Parliament:
Chris Hazzard: South Down, Sinn Féin. Claire Hanna: Belfast South, SDLP. Colum Eastwood; Foyle, leader of the SDLP. Francie Molloy: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson: Lagan Valley, parliamentary leader of the DUP. John Finucane: Belfast North, Sinn Féin . Michelle Gildernew: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin. Micky Brady: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin. Órfhlaith Begley: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin. Paul Maskey: Belfast West, Sinn Féin. Stephen Farry: Newtownards, Alliance Party.
House of Lords:
Baroness Margaret Ritchie of Downpatrick: Non-affiliated Baroness May Blood: (Retired) Baron Empey: UUP Baron Kilclooney: Non-affiliated Baron Rogan: UUP
Senator Niall Ó Donnaghaile: Sinn Féin Senator Elisha McCallion: Sinn Féin Business,
Trade Unions and Civic Society:
Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland. Manufacturing Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action. Patricia King: General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Owen Reidy: Assistant General Secretary, Northern Ireland. Gerry Murphy: President, ICTU, Northern Ireland Secretary, INTO. Frances O’Grady: British Trade Union Congress. Sharan Burrow: General Secretary, Secre tary, International Trade Union Confederation. Esther Lynch: Deputy General Secretary, European TradeUnion Conference. Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union Communications Workers Union (UK). Financial Services Union. Fire Brigades Union. GMB. PCS. Prison Officers Association. Royal College of Midwives. SIPTU. Ulster Teachers Union. Unite. NIPSPCA. Prospect/BECTU. Ulster Teachers Union. UNISON, Northern Ireland. NASUWT. Belfast and District Trades Union Council. Ballymena and Antrim Trades Union Council. Omagh and District Trades Union Council. Mid Ulster Trade Union Council. Belfast Jewish Community Council. Rt Rev Chris Hudson MBE: Moderator of the non- subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland. Fr Martin Magill PP: St John’s Parish, Belfast. Archbishop Eamon Martin. Dr Wasif Naeem: Chair, Belfast Islamic Centre. Rt Rev Dr William Henry: Moderator of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Adam Patterson: Screenwriter. Brian Gormally: Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice. Declan Law: Screenwriter. J. B. Vallely: artist and musicians. Les Allamby: Human Rights Commission Northern Ireland chief commissioner. Nichola McKee Corner Patrick Corrigan: Northern Ireland Programme Director, Amnesty International. Sara Canning. Trevor Ringland MBE. Clare Allen: Author and journalist. Felicity McCall: Author and journalist. Cllr Eamon McCann: Journalist. Julieann Campbell: Author and journalist .
Media Organisations Independent:
News and Media – Peter Vandermeersch: Publisher. Edward McCann: Deputy Publisher. Martin Breen: Editor, Sunday Life. Brian Farrell: Editor, Sunday World. Eoin Brannigan: incoming Editor in Chief. Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life. Gail Walker, Editor, Belfast Telegraph. Sarah Little, Publishing Director, Independent News & Media, Northern Ireland. Irish News: Noel Doran, Editor. News Letter: Alistair Bushe, Editor. Andersonstown News: Athony Neeson, Editor. The Impartial Reporter: Mark Conway, Editor. National Union of Journalists, UK & Ireland – Sian Jones: President. Michelle Stanistreet: NUJ General Secretary. Seamus Dooley: Assistant General Secretary. Bernie Mullen: Irish Executive Council. Bimpe Archer: Irish Executive Council. Gerry Carson: Irish Executive Council. Kathryn Johnson: Irish Executive Council. Anton McCabe: National Executive Council. Ciarán O Maoláin: National Executive Council. WAN-IFRA (World Association of News Publishers). World Editors Forum. Anthony Bellanger: General Secretary, International Federa- tion of Journalists. Younes M’Jahed: President, International Federation of Journalists. Ian Murray: Executive Director, UK Society of Editors.