25 November 2020

Paramilitary threat made against journalist working for Belfast paper

25 November 2020

A journalist working for the Belfast Telegraph has been threatened by a loyalist paramilitary group.

The breakaway South East Antrim UDA is being linked to the latest threat, following a spate of similar incidents earlier this year.

The intimidation has been condemned by the editor-in-chief of the Belfast Telegraph and the Sunday Life, Eoin Brannigan.

He said: “This is the second time this year we’ve had our journalists threatened in this manner.

Threats and intimidation have no place in Northern Ireland and journalists will not buckle in the face of these tactics

“It is outrageous that thugs are once again trying to silence a journalist doing their job.

“We are reassured that the PSNI is taking this threat very seriously.”

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) also strongly condemned the threat and said it will not deter journalists in Northern Ireland from their work.

Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said: “We unreservedly condemn this latest threat, which we understand comes from a loyalist terrorist group. Yet again a journalist is faced with threats simply for doing their job.

“Earlier this year, the NUJ, media organisations, political parties, trade union groups and a cross-section of business and community groups united in support of reporters under threat from so-called paramilitary groups.

“Our clear message today is the same as then: Threats and intimidation have no place in Northern Ireland and journalists will not buckle in the face of these tactics.”

In May this year, similar threats were carried out against reporters working for two Belfast-based newspapers.

A number of reporters working for the Sunday Life and Sunday World were visited by police officers, with warnings of imminent attacks by the South East Antrim UDA – a breakaway UDA group.

At least one journalist was told of a planned under-car booby trap attack and the warnings also said journalists at the two Sunday titles – both owned by Independent News and Media (INM) – were at risk of attack.

The loyalist terror gang continues to be involved in criminality and has been linked to several murders in recent years.

The gang has murdered three people in the past three years.

Members of the South East Antrim UDA have been linked to the murder in January of Glenn Quinn, 47, who was found in his flat in Carrickfergus.

It is understood the threat has been linked to the papers’ coverage of the murders and paramilitary activities.

In 2001, Sunday World reporter Martin O’Hagan was murdered by Loyalist Volunteer Force paramilitaries.

The loyalist group targeted the journalist as he walked home with his wife.

No-one has ever been convicted of his murder.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox