Back in 1995 when Gerry Adams warned: “they haven’t gone away, you know”, there was no doubt that he was referring to the IRA even though there were still plenty of so-called loyalist paramilitaries around despite a year-old ceasefire. Within three years, the Good Friday Agreement was signed, signifying an end to open hostilities but, more than two decades on, it is apparent that ‘they’ are still among us and still pose a threat.
Police have visited the homes of a number of journalists to warn them about credible threats, including threats of physical violence and plans to target a journalist with a car bomb. The UDA has targeted journalists working for the Sunday Life and Sunday World, while dissident Republicans have threatened a reporter with the Irish News.
While this development is deeply troubling it is heartening that the publishers of Belfast Telegraph, Irish News and News Letter and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have joined together to stand up for journalists and press freedom in Northern Ireland. Their joint statement has been endorsed by political, trade union, industry, community and religious leaders.
We salute a courageous and worthy initiative that asserts the right of journalists to work without threats, intimidation or harassment. Threats against journalists should not be tolerated in any free society.