Gerry Adams blasted for joke about newspaper editor held at gunpoint
International organisations which campaign for the protection and rights of journalists have expressed shock after Gerry Adams openly joked about a newspaper editor being held at gunpoint.
The Sinn Fein leader's remarks have been widely interpreted as representing a veiled threat to Press freedom.
During a five-star dinner event in New York last week, the Louth TD made light of a gun being placed to the head of the editor of the Irish Independent by IRA men under the orders of Michael Collins during the Irish War of Independence. He later repeated the comments on his official blog.
"And when the Irish Independent condemned his actions as 'murder most foul' what did Michael Collins do? He dispatched his men to the office of the Independent and held the editor at gunpoint as they dismantled the entire printing machinery and destroyed it," Mr Adams wrote.
The Association of European Journalists said the remarks should concern any citizen interested in the freedom of the Press.
"If you have what opinion polls tell us occasionally - the leader of the largest party in Ireland - idly and historically speculating about shooting editors, then one should be worried," said the association's Irish chairperson, Martin Alioth.
And the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also condemned the remarks. "While we realise Gerry Adams was joking when he made a remark about 'holding an editor at gunpoint', we are not amused. We are living through a period of record violence against journalists around the world. Quite simply, this is not a laughing matter," executive director Joel Simon said.
Mr Adams made the remarks amid a growing view within political circles that he has been seriously damaged over his handling of the Mairia Cahill abuse scandal.
Ms Cahill, who described Mr Adams' gun remarks as "sick", claimed she was raped by a member of the IRA and later interrogated by the terror group and forced to confront her alleged attacker.
The west Belfast woman has confirmed that she has been contacted by further abuse victims who say they were subsequently subjected to an IRA kangaroo court.
The Cahill controversy is due to be debated in the Dail on Wednesday.
"For any political leader to make these remarks in jest is totally improper and deeply insensitive. What Gerry Adams did was most inappropriate. It is similar to someone making light of suicide, or depression. It shows a deep sense of disrespect for freedom of the press."
- Jimmy Guerin, brother of murdered Irish journalist, Veronica Guerin