LUCINDA CREIGHTON HAS called for the general election campaign to be suspended in the wake of alleged threats to journalists from criminal gangs.
Speaking on the Six One News tonight, the Renua Ireland leader said she “believes that the events of the last week now represent a really fundamental threat to the security of the State”.
Creighton urged the Cabinet to meet to “design a comprehensive response to this national emergency”.
Citing a “similar emergency” in May 2005, the Dublin Bay South candidate said there were an extra 15,000 garda hours allocated to deal with organised crime.
It emerged this evening that a number of journalists have been told they could be in danger after working on so-called gangland crime stories over the past week.
In a statement, Independent News and Media (INM) said some of its reporters had been formally notified by gardaí that “their safety is at risk from organised criminals”.
Gardaí would not confirm that any warnings had been issued, telling TheJournal.ie that they “do not comment on individuals or any threats facing them”.
However, the garda spokesman added:
An Garda Síochána takes all threats against citizens very seriously. We have a process in place that seeks to mitigate such threats which includes risk assessments.
It is understood that over the past five days written garda warnings were sent to two journalists working for INM titles, which include the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent, The Herald, the Sunday World and The Irish Daily Star.
INM believes the threats emanate from criminal gangs operating in Dublin.
The publishers say they are working with gardaí to “strengthen security around these journalists and taking every precaution to ensure their safety”.
The company’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Rae, described the situation as “an outrageous threat to the freedom of the press in Ireland”.
Political leaders have moved to condemn the reported threats this evening with Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald outlining her belief that any threat to the freedom of the press is a threat to the State.
“Journalists play a vital role in our democracy, particularly in shining a light on wrongdoing.”
She also confirmed that gardaí are working closely with INM “to do everything possible to ensure the safety of their journalists”.
Enda Kenny tweeted about supporting all members of the media.
The Fine Gael leader also issued a full statement to condemn the actions.
“One of the pillars of a functioning democracy is freedom of speech and in any self respecting society, journalists must be afforded the freedom to go about their jobs without fear of reprisal,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáíl leader Micheál Martin described the news as a “very sinister development”.
Gerry Adams also said there is “no place in society” for threats against journalists and that “the thugs and gangsters behind the recent shootings in Dublin believe that they can act with impunity”.
Echoing the statements of her Dáil colleagues, Joan Burton also offered her support to the journalists involved.
Parts of the capital have seen armed units of An Garda Síochána open checkpoints and man various streets since last Friday when a man was gunned down – and two others injured – at a boxing event at the Regency Hotel.
Just three days later, Eddie Hutch Senior was shot dead in his own home in what gardaí believe was an act of retaliation for the initial murder.