Northern Ireland news

Paramilitary threat against Irish News journalist 'appalling'

Death threat described as 'appalling'

A PARAMILITARY threat against a journalist with The Irish News has been condemned as "appalling".

It is understood police visited the the journalist to notify them that there was a dissident republican plot to attack them in their own home.

Irish News editor Noel Doran said all attempts to intimidate journalists were repugnant.

He said: "A warning from the PSNI about a plan to physically attack a journalist at their home in the middle of the pandemic crisis is an appalling development.

"After discussing the case with a senior officer, I am satisfied that it is being treated very seriously by police. Our staff will not be deterred from carrying out their duties at any stage and I would call on those behind this threat to withdraw it without delay."

The PSNI said it did not discuss the security of individuals adding "no inference should be drawn from this".

"However, if we receive information that a person's life may be at risk we will inform them accordingly," a spokesman said.

"We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk."

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said he was deeply concerned by the threat.

“This is another sinister attempt to intimidate journalists and silence the media which comes in the middle of a public health emergency," he said.

“This follows a recent spate of despicable threats against journalists and elected representatives.

“Freedom of the press is a key cornerstone of any democratic society and the staff at this paper, like all workers, must be able to do their work free from intimidation or harassment.

“Those behind this threat have nothing to offer our society, particularly at a time when communities are coming together, they have once against set themselves against the people."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called for the threat to be lifted immediately.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland strongly condemned the threat.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said: "Vicious threats against journalists, by any group, at any time, are disgraceful. It is shocking this threat has been made at a time when the NHS staff are trying to save lives and help the vulnerable in our society.

"While the coronavirus is causing immense physical, mental and financial suffering; those behind this despicable threat have issued it in the hope of silencing a specific journalist and journalism in general.

"Let the message be loud and clear to them - all NUJ members condemn this threat and the union will continue to offer the journalist affected our full support and assistance.

"The NUJ demands that those issuing this threat lift it immediately.”

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