Journalists 'cannot work with police protection', says NUJ after gangland threats

The National Union of Journalists has said reporters must be able to do their jobs without intimidation, after a number of reporters were threatened by criminal gangs.

Independent News and Media has confirmed a number of its journalists had received threats and said it was increasing their security, in cooperation with gardaí.

Gardaí have informed two reporters - a man and a woman - that their safety is at risk from Dublin-based criminal gangs.

The two are understood to have temprarily left their homes as a result of the threats, but are continung to work.

Stephen Rae of INM told Morning Ireland this morning that the company had had four journalists at the boxing weigh-in at which David Byrne was shot.

He said photographs taken by them at the scen of the shooting were not, as he understood, it, the reason for the threats, which were issued instead "simply for reporting on the current gangland feud".

On the subject of protection, Irish secretary of the NUJ Seamus Dooley said journalists could not work with bodyguards or protection.

"They must work independently, and that includes independently of police," he said.

He added journalists Veronica Guerin and Martin O'Hagan were both murdered, and that both had declined police protection.

"You cannot work independently as a journalist while relying on police protection," he said.

The scene of last week's shooting - the Regency Airport Hotel. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach condemned the threats saying: "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."


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