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NUJ condemns latest Belfast attack on journalist

20 March 2014

The National Union of Journalists has condemned the latest attack on a journalist in Belfast. The incident occurred on St Patrick’s Day when a freelance photographer was assaulted on leaving a function at Belfast City Hall hosted by the Lord Mayor.

The NUJ member had been covering the reception and was walking down Royal Avenue when he was confronted by a group associated with a Loyalist flag protest.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, described the incident as "alarming." A man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Séamus Dooley said:

"Our member noticed that he was being followed by one of the group, who took his photograph. Two men followed him down the street and referred in a threatening manner to his association with the Irish News.
"They told him they knew which gym he went to, accused him of working for Sinn Féin, being a dissident and subjected him to sectarian abuse. The behaviour was deeply disturbing. For a freelance photographer to be attacked in this way is unacceptable.
"Like many freelances this man works for a variety of media organisations, including the Irish News. No one should be threatened or intimidated because of their association with any media organisations. Coming so soon after attempts to intimidate a court reporter this incident yet again highlights the difficulties faced by media workers in Northern Ireland. The tone and language used is reflective of widespread sectarianism which can have no place in Northern Ireland."

Tags: , photographers, press freedom, violence, belfast, freelance, loyalists