Journalists working for the Sunday World newspaper in Northern Ireland have been contacted by police and told of a series of “imminent threats” of attack by criminals and loyalist paramilitaries, the NUJ has revealed.
Both journalists have been named in various threatening social media posts, the union reports.
Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said:
“Once again NUJ members have received serious threats from loyalist paramilitaries and criminals intent on silencing journalism in Northern Ireland. These attempts to intimidate journalists must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
“We welcome the fact that the journalists concerned have received the full support of their employer. The protection of journalists and the active pursuit of those who threaten the media is essential to a functioning democratic society. The PSNI is fully engaged with both journalists and we hope that every effort will be made to ensure the continued safety of our members, their families and their colleagues.”
News of the threats come as the Society of Editors gets ready to debate issues affecting journalists in the province as part of its Virtual Conference 2020.
Norther Ireland: A Place Apart? takes place tomorrow (Tuesday, December 1) at 6pm and will explore such issues as changes to the provinces’ libel laws and threats to journalists.
The panel debate is chaired by Sunday Life Editor Martin Breen and includes Noel Doran, Editor of the Irish News; Sam McBride, Political Editor of News Letter; Fergal McGoldrick, specialist media litigation solicitor at Carson McDowell; Allison Morris, security correspondent and columnist at Irish News and Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist MLA.
The discussions come at a time when it has been revealed police in the province have agreed to pay significant damages to two journalists inappropriately arrested over material that appeared in a documentary on a Troubles massacre.
Press Gazette reports it is understood the PSNI has also agreed to delete material it seized from Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey and they raided their homes and offices in August 2018.
It’s believed the PSNI has agreed to pay out a total of £875,000.