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Dublin: 1 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020

Loyalist group denies making death threats to Belfast reporter

The UDA categorically denies threatening a Belfast-based journalist, saying it seeks to defend the freedom of the press.

NUJ's Irish secretary Séamus Dooley said threats to journalists reminded employers of their duty to protect their staff.
NUJ's Irish secretary Séamus Dooley said threats to journalists reminded employers of their duty to protect their staff.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A PARAMILITARY GROUP in Northern Ireland has denied threatening a Belfast-based journalist who the NUJ yesterday claimed had been subject to death threats.

In a statement seen by the BBC, the loyalist Ulster Defence Association – the largest paramilitary group in the North – said it respected the right of reporters to carry out their work.

The body said it respected “the freedom of the press and the right of all journalists to carry out and pursue their profession free from intimidation or threat”.

Graffiti with the name and number of the journalist – whose identity has not been disclosed – has appeared at various locations around Belfast.

The BBC said the alleged threat had been made by telephone on Saturday evening.

The National Union of Journalists, which revealed the threat yesterday, gave a guarded welcome to the denial.

“We take the death threat against our member very seriously,” NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said.

“The fact that he was named in graffiti along with his mobile phone number on strategically placed locations is a clear indication of the intention – the intimidation of an investigative journalist.”

The union’s Irish secretary Séamus Dooley said the body welcomed the support shown by institutions from across the community in Northern Ireland, and was available to meet with the Ulster Political Research Group to discuss its concerns.

“Threat to workers, whatever role they perform, have no place in a democratic society. Media workers must be allowed to carry out their functions and to ask difficult, probing questions without fear of death threats,” he said.

Dooley added that the threats were a reminder to media employers of their duty to care for and protect their staff.

Read: Belfast-based journalist in loyalist death threat report

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Gavan Reilly

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