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Terror group thought to be behind ‘sickening’ threat to journalist

A paramilitary terror group is believed to be behind a “sickening” threat made against a regional Sunday newspaper journalist.

The reporter who works for Belfast’s Sunday World title was visited by officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland on Thursday night to be informed of the threat.

The reporter was told “criminal elements” have been monitoring their movements with a view to “some form of violent attack”.

And they were informed: “The use of firearms cannot be ruled out”.


According to Sunday World, it is believed that the criminal elements in question belong to the East Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force who are said to be unhappy at the reporting of a number of drug seizures and arrests at the hands of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force.

The paper’s editor, Brian Farrell, described the threats as ‘sickening’ and called on the PSNI to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

He said: “The continued attempts by paramilitary organisations to intimidate and harass journalists in Northern Ireland is of great concern.

“Many of our journalists now work in a climate of fear, and threats of violence against them and their families is sickening.

“A free press is the cornerstone of any democratic society, and we will not be silenced by the faceless thugs who threaten our communities and their livelihoods.

“It is imperative that the PSNI use every resource available to ensure that these criminal elements are brought to justice. ”

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalist, said: “This is yet another cowardly threat by thugs trying to silence journalists and a free media. The union will do everything to support the journalist concerned and we call on those behind this threat to lift it immediately.

“Death threats and threats of other violence have become a regular occurrence for many journalists in Northern Ireland but there is nothing normal about this scenario.

“The NUJ calls on the PSNI to vigorously pursue those behind all threats to journalists and media workers, and bring them before the courts.”

The NUJ’s Irish Secretary, Seamus Dooley, added: “Our immediate concern is for the safety and welfare of the journalist concerned, a person I know to be a reporter of integrity.

“We assure them, their editor and colleagues of our full support. There can be no peace and no democracy in a society when journalists operate under threats.

“Those who issue such threats must by now realise that journalists will not be silenced. We call on anyone who may be In a position to influence those behind these threats to do so.

“Every worker has a right to earn a living free of intimidation and fear. Journalists are no exception”.

A number of journalists from across Northern Ireland have faced rape or death threats in the last few years, including former Sunday World reporter Patricia Devlin.

Patricia tweeted last night: “Thoughts tonight are with a former colleague, a fantastic journalist who is now only one of a few to shine a light on the sinister activities of this drugs gang. The people behind it know what they are doing.”

A PSNI spokesperson told HTFP: “We do not discuss the security of individuals and no inference should be drawn from this.

“However, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk.”