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Stand Up for Journalism: Initiative condemning threats against NI reporters receives widespread support


Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill are among those who have signed the statement

Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill are among those who have signed the statement


Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill are among those who have signed the statement

The publishers of three Belfast-based newspapers and the National Union of Journalists have joined together to stand up for reporters and press freedom in Northern Ireland.

The initiative has secured local and global endorsement, involving many prominent individuals and organisations.

The public statement is carried today in the Belfast Telegraph, Irish News and News Letter and has been endorsed by political, trade union, industry, community and religious leaders.

Signatories include the First Minister Arlene Foster, deputy First Minster Michelle O'Neill and the majority of MLAs.

The joint initiative aims to highlight and challenge the increasing number of threats of violence against the media.

Earlier this month it emerged loyalist paramilitaries had issued threats against journalists at the Sunday Life and Sunday World newspapers.

Under the banner "Stand Up for Journalism" the public statement strongly asserts the right of journalists to work without threats, intimidation or harassment.

Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said: "In the past the trade union movement took to the streets in protest against the threats to workers.

"In the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves today, we rely on newspapers to highlight the threats to journalists.

"By working with the publishers and our members affected, we have been able to secure the support of a cross-section of society in Northern Ireland."

Martin Breen, Sunday Life editor, said: "Enough is enough. Some 26 years after the ceasefires, terrorist organisations from both the loyalist and republican side are continuing to threaten journalists on an ongoing basis because we have been exposing their dirty deeds and criminal empires.

"We all have to stand up against these vile threats as their sole aim is to silence investigative journalism and curtail the public's right to know about those gangsters operating in their communities across Northern Ireland.

"We hold everyone to account and will continue to expose criminality and all wrongdoing no matter where it originates."

Brian Farrell, Sunday World editor, said: "The recent threats issued to our journalists only serves to highlight the risk and importance of exposing the criminal menace that plagues our society. We will not be silenced nor intimidated and will not rest until those responsible are brought to justice."

Noel Doran, Irish News editor, added: "The increase in the number of serious threats against Belfast-based journalists is a deeply alarming development, so the significant level of support behind today's initiative is heartening.

"It sends out a strong message that all the attempts at intimidation will have no effect on our coverage, that the perpetrators need to be robustly pursued by the authorities and that civil society is firmly behind freedom of the press."

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Public Representatives


Arlene Foster: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Michelle O’Neill: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin, Deputy First Minister.

Alex Maskey: West Belfast, Sinn Féin.

Andrew Muir: North Down, Alliance Party.

Andy Allen MBE: East Belfast, UUP.

Caoimhe Archibald: East Derry, Sinn Féin.

Carál Ní Chuilín: North Belfast, Sinn Féin.

Cathal Boylan: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin.

Catherine Kelly: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin.

Chris Lyttle: East Belfast, Alliance Party.

Colin McGrath: South Down, SDLP.

Colm Gildernew: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin.

Conor Murphy: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin.

David Hilditch: East Antrim, DUP.

Declan McAleer: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin.

Declan Kearney: South Antrim, Sinn Féin.

Deirdre Hargey: South Belfast, Sinn Féin.

Diane Dodds: Upper Bann, DUP.

Doug Beattie: Upper Bann, UUP.

Emma Rogan: South Down, Sinn Féin.

Emma Sheerin: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin.

Fra McCann: West Belfast, Sinn Féin .

Gary Middleton: Foyle, DU.P

Gerry Carroll: West Belfast, People Before Profit.

Gerry Kelly: North Belfast, Sinn Féin.

Gordon Lyons: East Antrim, DUP.

Jemma Dolan: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin.

Joanne Bunting: East Belfast, DUP.

John Blair: South Antrim, Alliance Party.

John O’Dowd: Upper Bann, Sinn Féin.

Karen Mullan: Foyle, Sinn Féin.

Keith Buchanan: Mid Ulster, DUP.

Kellie Armstrong: Strangford, Alliance Party.

Linda Dillon: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin.

Liz Kimmins: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin.

Maolíosa McHugh: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin.

Mark H Durkan: Foyle, SDLP.

Martina Anderson: Foyle, Sinn Féin.

Maurice Bradley: East Londonderry, DUP.

Mike Nesbitt: Strangford, UUP.

Naomi Long: East Belfast, leader of Alliance Party.

Órlaithí Flynn; West Belfast, Sinn Féin.

Pam Cameron: South Antrim, DUP.

Pat Sheehan: West Belfast, Sinn Féin.

Paul Frew: North Antrim, DUP.

Paula Bradley: North Belfast, DUP.

Paula Bradshaw: South Belfast, Alliance Party.

Peter Weir: Strangford, DUP.

Philip McGuigan: North Antrim, Sinn Féin.

Robbie Butler: Lagan Valley, UUP.

Roy Beggs: East Antrim, UUP.

Sean Lynch: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin.

Sinéad Ennis: South Down, Sinn Féin.

Steve Aiken: South Antrim, leader of UUP.

Stewart Dickson: East Antrim, Alliance Party.

William Humphrey: North Belfast, DUP.

William Irwin: Newry and Armagh, DUP.

Members of Parliament

Oliver Dowden: Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Brandon Lewis: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Chris Hazzard: South Down, Sinn Féin.

Claire Hanna: Belfast South, SDLP.

Colum Eastwood; Foyle, leader of the SDLP.

Francie Molloy: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson: Lagan Valley, parliamentary leader of DUP.

John Finucane: Belfast North, Sinn Féin .

Michelle Gildernew: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin.

Micky Brady: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin.

Órfhlaith Begley: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin.

Paul Maskey: Belfast West, Sinn Féin.

Stephen Farry: North Down, Alliance Party.

House of Lords

Baroness Margaret Ritchie of Downpatrick: Non-affiliated

Baroness May Blood: Retired

Baron Empey: UUP

Baron Kilclooney: Non-affiliated

Baron Rogan: UUP

Seanad Éireann

Senator Niall Ó Donnaghaile: Sinn Féin

Senator Elisha McCallion: Sinn Féin

Business, Trade Unions and Civic Society

Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland.

Manufacturing Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.

Patricia King: General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Owen Reidy: Assistant General Secretary, Northern Ireland.

Gerry Murphy: President, ICTU, Northern Ireland Secretary, INTO.

Frances O’Grady: British Trade Union Congress.

Sharan Burrow: General, Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

Esther Lynch: Deputy General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation.

Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

Communications Workers Union (UK).

Financial Services Union.

Fire Brigades Union.



Prison Officers Association.

Royal College of Midwives.





Ulster Teachers Union.

UNISON, Northern Ireland.


North Down and Ards Council of Trade Unions.

Belfast and District Trades Union Council.

Ballymena and Antrim Trades Union Council.

Omagh and District Trades Union Council.

Mid Ulster Trade Union Council.

Belfast Jewish Community Council.

Rt Rev Chris Hudson MBE: Moderator of the non- subscribing

Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

Rev Harold Good.

Fr Martin Magill PP: St John’s Parish, Belfast.

Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Dr Wasif Naeem: Chair, Belfast Islamic Centre.

Rt Rev Dr William Henry: Moderator of the General Assembly,

Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Adam Patterson: Screenwriter.

Brian Gormally: Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice.

Declan Lawn: Screenwriter.

J. B. Vallely: Artist and musician.

Les Allamby: Chief commissioner, Human Rights Commission Northern Ireland

Nichola McKee Corner

Patrick Corrigan: Northern Ireland Programme Director, Amnesty International.

Sara Canning.

Trevor Ringland MBE.

Claire Allan: Author and journalist.

Felicity McCall: Author and journalist.

Cllr Eamonn McCann: Journalist.

Julieann Campbell: Author and journalist .

Media Organisations

Independent News and Media:

Peter Vandermeersch: Publisher.

Edward McCann: Deputy Publisher.

Martin Breen: Editor, Sunday Life.

Brian Farrell: Editor, Sunday World.

Eoin Brannigan: incoming Editor in Chief, Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life.

Gail Walker, Editor, Belfast Telegraph.

Sarah Little, Publishing Director, Independent News & Media, Northern Ireland.

Irish News: Noel Doran, Editor.

News Letter: Alistair Bushe, Editor.

Andersonstown News: Athony Neeson, Editor.

The Impartial Reporter: Mark Conway, Editor.

National Union of Journalists, UK & Ireland:

Sian Jones: President.

Michelle Stanistreet: General Secretary.

Seamus Dooley: Assistant General Secretary.

Bernie Mullen: Irish Executive Council.

Bimpe Archer: Irish Executive Council.

Gerry Carson: Irish Executive Council.

Kathryn Johnson: Irish Executive Council.

Anton McCabe: National Executive Council.

Ciarán O Maoláin: National Executive Council.

WAN-IFRA (World Association of News Publishers)

World Editors Forum:

Anthony Bellanger: General Secretary,

International Federation of Journalists.

Younes M’Jahed: President, International Federation of Journalists.

Ian Murray: Executive Director, UK Society of Editors.

Belfast Telegraph