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First Ministers ‘should apologise’ over Telegraph criticism

By Lisa Smyth

Published 18/04/2009

The First and Deputy First Ministers have been challenged to apologise for recent criticism of the Belfast Telegraph.

Deputy leader of the UUP Danny Kennedy was speaking after it emerged that Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness wrote a joint letter to the owner of the Belfast Telegraph complaining about the newspaper’s coverage, including the Let’s Get Back to Work campaign, aimed at encouraging the Executive to focus on job creation.

Mr Kennedy has tabled an Assembly question asking the First Ministers to detail any official complaints.

“Two weeks ago the DUP was threatening the local media with possible legal repercussions if they carried a story about the collective expenses of their MPs,” the UUP MLA said.

“Then last week it was revealed that the DUP leader, along with |Martin McGuinness, had written to the owner of the Belfast Telegraph complaining about how they reported Executive business.

“The media has a very specific role in every democracy. No political party will ever be entirely happy with media coverage.”

Mr Kennedy said he was “very disturbed” by the “in tandem” complaint against “Northern Ireland's largest circulation newspaper”.

“Maybe an apology would be in order, along with an apology to a dedicated and hardworking core of journalists across Northern Ireland.

“Newspapers are not an extension of the DUP-SF propaganda machine. It is their job to report and comment on political reality, not the Pollyanna version of it so beloved by our co-equal First Ministers,” he added.

A spokesman from OFMDFM declined to comment.

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