The National Union of Journalists has expressed grave concern at confirmation that the Police Service Northern Ireland has intercepted a letter containing a bullet addressed to a Belfast-based journalist.
The journalist was advised by the PSNI that the letter containing a bullet was intercepted at the weekend. The letter was sent following the journalist's reporting of Loyalist rioting in Belfast.
Barry McCall, NUJ president, described the letter as "the latest in a series of despicable attempts to intimidate journalists in Northern Ireland ".
He said: "This is a despicable attempt to intimidate journalists working in extremely difficult circumstances. The posting of a bullet to a newspaper, addressed to a named journalist, represents an attack on journalism and on democracy. This incident must be seen in the context of recent attacks on journalists and elected public representatives and should be condemned by all who support the democratic process."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said the incident emphasised the need for vigilance on the part of journalists and media organisations in Northern Ireland. She said: "Employers and journalists – staff and freelance, need to be alert to the very real dangers which arise when covering conflict situations. The lack of respect for the rights of journalists to work unimpeded present a particular challenge. The bullet sent in the post was clearly indeed to send a signal to the media. Over many years journalists have stood firm in the face of intimidation and they continue to do so."