'great concern'  | 

Terror group east Belfast UVF believed to be behind 'sickening' threat to Sunday World reporter

"It is imperative that the PSNI use every resource available to ensure that these criminal elements are brought to justice. "
Staff reporter

East Belfast UVF are believed to be behind a sinister threat to a Belfast journalist tonight, Thursday.

Officers from the PSNI visited a reporter working with the Sunday World newspaper in Belfast to inform them of the threat.

Chillingly, the journalist was warned that firearms may be used in an attack.

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”.

It’s believed those criminal elements belong to the east Belfast UVF who are unhappy at the reporting of a number of drug seizures and arrests at the hands of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force.

Sunday World editor, Brian Farrell, condemned the latest in a long line of threats made against journalists and described the threats as 'sickening'.

"The continued attempts by paramilitary organisations to intimidate and harass journalists in Northern Ireland is of great concern," he said.

"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. "

NUJ General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, 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.”

Irish Secretary, Seamus Dooley, said: “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”.

The threats come as part of a disturbing pattern which has seen a number of journalists from across Northern Ireland face death threats in the last few years.

In March Police launched an investigation after graffiti threatening unnamed journalists appeared in south Belfast.

The threat was painted on a temporary wall in the Bradbury Place area and was widely condemned.

In the last two years a number of journalists were made aware of death threats from a number of loyalist paramilitary groups.

In February 2021 death threats were sprayed on two walls in east Belfast threatening former Sunday World reporter Patricia Devlin.

Two BBC journalists were targeted last year after being involved in the making of a Panorama documentary about Dublin crime boss Daniel Kinahan.

Two reporters from the Sunday World were warned of an “imminent attack” from criminal elements within the UDA in November 2020.

And that came just a few days after a separate reporter working for INM were told their life was in danger.

The breakaway South East Antrim UDA (Ulster Defence Association) was being linked to that threat, following a spate of similar incidents earlier that year.

The reporters were told they were being targeted and were warned about bombs being planted underneath their cars.

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