Northern Ireland

Journalist Amanda Ferguson says Ireland's Future and abortion cited as reasons for DUP conference exclusion

Freelance journalist Amanda Ferguson
Freelance journalist Amanda Ferguson

A journalist refused entry to the DUP conference said her participation in the recent Ireland's Future event and her coverage of abortion-related issues were cited as reasons for her exclusion.

Amanda Ferguson, a freelance journalist and commentator, who is news agency Reuters' Northern Ireland correspondent, the regional 'stringer' for the Washington Post, and a regular contributor on BBC radio, was later admitted to Saturday's conference at Belfast's Crowne Plaza Hotel on the orders of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

The DUP hasn't officially commented on the episode which caused a stir on social media.

In common with other journalists, Ms Ferguson had sought prior accreditation for the event that she has previously covered but received no response from the DUP press office.

On arrival at the venue she was told by the party's head of communications John Robinson that entry was being refused because she was not accredited.

"My hosting of a panel at the Ireland's Future event in the 3Arena was mentioned, as well as my past coverage of abortion issues," she told The Irish News.

"But I'm a professional journalist who hosts countless events with a variety of themes and aims."

She described her exclusion as "an attempt to intimidate and humiliate me", adding that DUP chairman Lord Morrow had told her personally that the refusal of entry was "unfair".

"A free press is the cornerstone of democracy," she said.

"I'm glad the DUP saw the error of its ways but this should never have happened in the first place."