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Dublin criminals issue threats to reporters after gangland killings

 INM Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae said the threats were disturbing approaching the anniversary of the murder of Dublin crime reporter Veronica Guerin 20 years ago
Andrea McKernon

THREATS have been issued to journalists in Dublin that "evoke memories" of the murder of Veronica Guerin, Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin has said.

They were issued to a number of journalists in News and Independent Media (NIM) following two gangland murders in the capital.

The reporters were warned by Gardai that their safety was at risk. 

A statement on Thursday evening from (INM), which owns the Irish Independent newspaper, said: "This media organisation has received information which threatens the safety of a number of journalists.

"A number of reporters at Independent News and Media (INM) have been formally notified by An Garda Siochána that their safety is a risk from organised criminals."

"INM is working with gardai to strengthen security around these journalists and taking every precaution to ensure their safety. The threats are understood to have emanated from criminal gangs in Dublin."

"After consulting with the reporters concerned, INM has decided to make these threats public in order to highlight the danger posed to the media."

INM Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae described the threats as "outrageous".

“This is an outrageous threat to the freedom of the press in Ireland and we are taking the threats with the utmost seriousness. The safety of our journalists is of paramount importance. It is disturbing that threats of this nature have emerged as we approach the twentieth anniversary of the death of our colleague Veronica Guerin, who was murdered by criminals for exposing their activities. 

"Our media group will not be deterred from serving the public interest and highlighting the threat to society at large posed by such criminals.”

Group managing editor of the INM, Edward McCann, said the "people in question" had been "formally notified" by Irish police that their safety was at risk from organised criminals.

"As journalists our duty is to report the facts and to expose stuff and sometimes that makes it uncomfortable for criminal elements and in this instance, obviously, there's a risk from organised criminals in relation to reporting of incidents," he said.

"Both An Garda Síochána and Independent News and Media are treating the threats very seriously and measures are being put in place. We're very conscious of the safety of all our staff."

Mr McCann said the paper was well aware of the dangers that journalists faced.

"INM has lost two journalists in the last 20 years," he said.

"Veronica Guerin and then there was Martin O'Hagan in Northern Ireland so we're well aware as a group of the dangers posed to journalists."

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Irish secretary, Seamus Dooley, said he was "gravely concerned at the development".

"Journalists and media organisations will not be intimidated by such threats, which have no place in a democratic society," he said."

"Our immediate thoughts are with those under threat and their families. No journalists should be placed under threat for doing their job."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that he deplores and condemns "any threat made to any journalist in this jurisdiction".

"One of the pillars of a functioning democracy is freedom of speech and in any self respecting society, journalists must be afforded the freedom to go about their jobs without fear of reprisal.

"Those who engaged in the recent killings on our streets will be brought to justice and no resource will be spared in doing so.

"The journalists at whom these threats have been levelled have our full support as do all journalists bravely going about their daily duties."

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin described the development as “very sinister”.

He said it will “evoke memories of the very worst days of gangland violence and the murder of Veronica Guerin 20 years ago”.

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