Northern Ireland news

Loughinisland journalist Barry McCaffrey says arrests left mark on him

From left, Barry McCaffrey, Trevor Birney, Susan McKay, Alex Gibney, Sean Murray, and Kathyrn Johnston before a discussion in the Ulster Museum hosted by Docs Ireland, on freedom of the press. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA

AN AWARD-winning Belfast journalist, arrested in an investigation where the case against him recently collapsed, says the experience has left a mark on him.

Barry McCaffrey said he will not be the same again after he was arrested last August along with his colleague Trevor Birney.

The two journalists were arrested over the alleged theft of a police watchdog document that appeared in their film No Stone Unturned about the loyalist massacre in Loughinisland.

The Lord Chief Justice recently ruled search warrants used by police had been “inappropriate”. This resulted in the criminal probe into the journalists being discontinued.

Mr McCaffrey was speaking at the Docs Ireland Film Festival event called Freedom of the Press: Are investigative journalists safe to work in Ireland, at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

“It’s like a death, you go through all the emotions, you’ve got the anger, you’ve got the guilt, the guilt about what you are doing to your family, Trevor’s children had to watch him being arrested, my mother who battled cancer,” he told the event.

“We were big enough and bold enough, we knew the risks we were going through, but it was stress and the hassle that you put your family through, to me, that’s the guilt for me.”

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