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Guarded NUJ welcome for death threat assurance

20 August 2012

The NUJ has given a guarded welcome to a UDA statement saying that the association does not condone or take responsibility for death threats to a Belfast journalist.

In a statement, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, and Séamus Dooley, Irish secretary, confirmed they would be available to meet representatives of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG). The group has responded to the NUJ condemnation of a death threat issued against a Belfast journalist over the weekend.

Michelle Stanistreet said:

"We take the death threat against our member very seriously. The fact that he was named in graffiti along with his mobile phone number on strategically placed locations is a clear indication of the intention - the intimidation of an investigative journalist. The very direct threat to his life cannot be ignored. In so far as the UDA statement we are giving it a guarded welcome."

Séamus Dooley said journalists were shocked by the threat to the NUJ member and were inundated with messages of support.

"We are available to meet with the Ulster Political Research Group to discuss our concerns. We welcome the high level of support from all sections of the community in Northern Ireland. Threat to workers, whatever role they perform, have no place in a democratic society.
"Media workers must be allowed to carry out their functions and to ask difficult, probing questions without fear of death threats. If the UPRG can assist us in our aim of making Northern Ireland a safer place for journalists we are happy to meet with them.
"This development is also a reminder to employers that they need to be aware of their duty of care to journalists – reporters and photographers. We need to be ever mindful of the risks faced by journalists engaged in frontline duties."

Tags: , UDA, Belfast, Ulster Political Research Group, death threats, press freedom, photographers