Northern Ireland news

Death threat Irish News journalist flooded with messages of support

Val Robinson

An Irish News reporter at the centre of a death threat scare has been flooded with online messages of support.

The threat to the journalist’s life was issued on Friday and is linked to an ongoing murder investigation.

The revelation sparked a wave of support for the reporter from the worlds of politics and the media.

In a note to The Irish News, former Police Ombusdman Baroness Nuala O’Loan revealed that she had been “very shocked” to hear that the life of one of the newspaper’s journalists had been threatened and that she wanted to “express sympathy”.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was among the first to use social media to condemn the threat as “reprehensible” while Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt tweeted that “whoever is threatening a journalist should wise up and seek help. We are a democracy”. 

Alliance Party deputy leader Naomi Long told her followers that that it was “utterly disgraceful that anyone is threatened for doing their job”.

She added that the free press was “fundamental to a free society”. 

SDLP press officer Martin McAuley expressed solidarity with staff at the Irish News, saying that the threat “won’t deter them!” 

There was also outrage among the reporter’s peers, with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) describing the threat as "sinister".

The News Letter’s political correspondent Sam McBride tweeted that “threatening to kill a journalist you don’t like doesn’t make you look tough. It makes you look dangerously brainless”. 

And the online news site Slugger O’Toole also took to Twitter to express its support for the targeted reporter and her newsroom colleagues, writing: “ Some great people, doing important work.” 

Derry-based Irish News columnist Leona O’Neill condemned those behind the threat as “cowards” while UTV’s political editor Ken Reid tweeted: 

UTV web reporter Ricky Thompson described the threat as “chilling”.

The BBC’s William Crawley called on his followers to “stand up for a free press” and to express their support for the threatened journalist. 

Prominent Belfast communications director Dan McGinn used Twitter to pose the questions“who in their right mind thinks they can threaten the life of or harm anyone – let alone a journalist”?

RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme tweeted that the threat had been described as a “sinister development” while the story was also covered by the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade and the Belfast Telegraph.

Meanwhile, Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International described the actions of those behind the death threat as “unacceptable”, adding: “Free press is crucial to democratic society.”

Responding to the threat, Irish News editor Noel Doran said: “We are taking this development very seriously and the police are fully aware of our concerns. A threat against a highly respected colleague is deplorable and all attempts to undermine press freedom must be firmly resisted whenever and wherever they emerge.”

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