Trade unionists stand with threatened journalists

30 Nov 2020

Speaking after threats were delivered to Belfast journalists, ICTU Assistant General Secretary Owen Reidy commented:

“Last week, all supporters of free expression were cheered when a court in Belfast finally brought to a just conclusion the long-running scandal of the police prosecution of two brave and principled journalists, Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney. The settlement reached clears the names and reputations of journalists who performed the vital public service of shining a light on the operations of powerful and secretive organisations.

“Within 24 hours, other shadowy and powerful loyalists issued threats to journalists on both of Northern Ireland’s Sunday newspapers. All trade unionists from every workplace should and will stand with those journalists and their union, the NUJ, as they face down these criminal gangs who bring nothing to our society and its welfare, in particular those working-class communities who are the primary victims of those who arrogantly describe themselves as ‘defenders’.

“Last year, the murder to Lyra McKee by irredentist republicans, who do not deserve possession of the noble word ‘dissident’, brought thousands of good people from all sections of our society onto the streets and online to voice their contempt for her killers. Last April, the same gang threatened a journalist from the Irish News. This week, the threats were from loyalists aimed at those working for the Sunday World and the Sunday Life.  Who’s next?

“These organised criminals do not deserve the time given to them by well-intentioned people. They have nothing more to contribute. They deserve to be shunned for threatening public servants who shine lights and speak truths to power.”