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Bryson won't receive any assistance from the NUJ, says secretary - I just want to be accepted as an equal says blogger

Jamie Bryson

The Belfast Branch of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has denied claims the organisation is split over offering support to loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson.

Mr Bryson, who writes on his Unionist Voice blog, is currently a temporary member of the NUJ.

The PSNI has said his recent arrest was part of an ongoing investigation into criminality linked to the east Belfast UVF, a claim Mr Bryson denies.

Mr Bryson, from Donaghadee, was held on suspicion of unlawfully supplying door staff. He denies any wrongdoing and said that during the searches police confiscated a number of laptops that contained "journalistic materials" and that these could not be opened due to "journalistic privilege".

Mr Bryson said: "I haven't even asked for representation from the NUJ at this stage. All I want is to be accepted as an equal to other members on the same level of membership.

"As things stand I'm quite happy with the legal representation I'm getting, but I would like to have the option open through the NUJ should it be relevant further down the line."

But the Belfast Branch has said it is not in a position to provide any assistance, though NUJ head office confirmed Mr Bryson could still go through the process of applying for assistance at national level.

Secretary of Belfast and District NUJ Branch, Ciaran O Maolain, said: "Jamie Bryson has not applied to the Union for assistance and the Belfast Branch is not going to provide any.

"As a temporary member he has no entitlement to union benefits or legal assistance except at the discretion of the National Executive Council."

An NUJ spokesperson said that should Mr Bryson contact the NUJ for legal assistance, the decision would be taken at national level.

"Jamie Bryson is a temporary member of the NUJ," the spokesperson confirmed. "In the case of temporary members applications for legal assistance, are decided upon by the National Executive Council. If an application for support or assistance is received from Jamie Bryson, it will be considered in the normal way."

Mr Bryson said: "I have been contacted by a number of journalists who obviously have very different views to that coming from the Belfast branch. They only take issue with me because of my politics. That is not equality in the union. Danny Morrison and Anthony McIntyre are both former IRA men and have been members of the NUJ. They were treated as equals and rightly so. I would like to be acknowledged in the same way."

Belfast Telegraph