World Association of News Publishers

WAN-IFRA joins call to stop the rise in death threats against Northern Ireland journalists

WAN-IFRA joins call to stop the rise in death threats against Northern Ireland journalists


The World Association of News Publishers and the World Editors Forum today joined many expression groups, industry bodies, civic leaders, and journalists in a joint statement condemning recent threats against journalists working for the Sunday Life and Sunday World newspapers in Northern Ireland, and stand up for journalists and press freedom in Northern Ireland.

On 8 May, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) warned a number of journalists about imminent attacks, including details of a planned booby-trap device to be fitted under a journalist's car. Members of the South East Antrim faction are understood to be behind planned attacks on journalists working for the Sunday World and Sunday Life newspapers. Both the Sunday Life and Sunday World have covered the South East Antrim UDA in their coverage of the murder of Glenn Quinn, as well as the UDA’s role in the Northern Irish drug trade.

Stand up for Journalism

Over the past 12 months we have witnessed with alarm an increase in the number of violent threats against journalists in Northern Ireland.

This month Loyalist paramilitaries have threatened all journalists working at the Sunday Life and Sunday World newspapers in Belfast. This follows recent threats against a journalist working for The Irish News.

Attempts to intimidate journalists have come from dissident Republican and Loyalist paramilitary groups and are intended to prevent the media from investigating their activities and exposing criminality.

Threats against journalists and media organisations have no place in our society. It is vital that such behaviour is not tolerated. No worker should be exposed to threats for doing their job.

At a time when the media is playing such an important role in covering the terrible Covid-19 pandemic the recent, blanket threat is especially worrying.

Elected politicians who criticised the threats have now become the subject of intimidation from groups without any mandate.

Attempts have been made to silence public representatives for defending the right to freedom of expression.

Public support has sustained journalists during the dark days of the past.

Today we assert the right of our communities to be informed by journalists operating without fear or intimidation.

It is the function of the media to ask difficult questions, to speak truth to power, to expose corruption, to shine a light into dark corners.

Journalists in Northern Ireland will continue to do so.

A free, independent media is a cornerstone of democracy.

No group can be allowed to undermine the freedom of the press. Every effort must be made to ensure that those who are guilty of intimidation are brought to justice.

We call for the immediate withdrawal of all threats against journalists in Northern Ireland and for the freedom of the press to be respected and protected.

Add your name - Stop the rise in death threats against Northern Ireland journalists

Supported by –


Northern Ireland media

Martin Breen: Editor, Sunday Life
Eoin Brannigan: incoming Editor in Chief, Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life
Brian Farrell: Editor, Sunday World
Noel Doran: Editor, Irish News
Alistair Bushe: Editor, News Letter
Anthony Neeson: Editor, Andersonstown News
Mark Conway: Editor, The Impartial Reporter

Peter Vandermeersch, Publisher, Independent News and Media, and Belfast Telegraph
Edward McCann: Deputy Publisher, Independent News and Media
Sarah Little: Publishing Director, Independent News and Media

National Union of Journalists, UK and Ireland

Michelle Stanistreet: General Secretary
Seamus Dooley: Assistant General Secretary
Sian Jones: NUJ President
Bernie Mullen: Irish Executive Council
Bimpe Archer: Irish Executive Council
Gerry Carson: Irish Executive Council
Kathryn Johnson: Irish Executive Council
Anton McCabe: National Executive Council
Ciarán O Maoláin: National Executive Council

Media organisations

WAN: IFRA (World Association of News Publishers)
World Editors Forum
Anthony Bellanger: General Secretary, International Federation of Journalists
Younes M’Jahed: President, International Federation of Journalists
Ian Murray: Executive Director, UK Society of Editors

Members of the Legislative Assembly Northern Ireland (MLAs)

Arlene Foster: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and First Minister of Northern Ireland
Michelle O'Neill: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin, Deputy First Minister
Alex Maskey: Speaker, NI Assembly
Andrew Muir: North Down, Alliance Party
Andy Allen: East Belfast, Ulster Unionist Party
Caoimhe Archibald: East Derry, Sinn Féin
Carál Ní Chuilín: North Belfast, Sinn Féin
Cathal Boylan: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin  
Catherine Kelly: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin  
Chris Lyttle: East Belfast, Alliance Party
Colin McGrath: South Down, Social Democratic and Labour Party
Colm Gildernew: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin
Conor Murphy: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin
David Hilditch: East Antrim, Democratic Unionist Party
Declan McAleer: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin  
Declan Kearney: South Antrim, Sinn Féin
Deirdre Hargey: South Belfast, Sinn Féin  
Diane Dodds: Upper Bann, Democratic Unionist Party
Doug Beattie: Upper Bann, Ulster Unionist Party
Emma Rogan: South Down, Sinn Féin
Emma Sheerin: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin
Fra McCann: West Belfast, Sinn Féin
Gary Middleton: Foyle, Democratic Unionist Party
Gerry Carroll: West Belfast, People Before Profit
Gerry Kelly: North Belfast, Sinn Féin
Gordon Lyons: East Antrim, Democratic Unionist Party
Jemma Dolan: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin
Joanne Bunting: East Belfast, Democratic Unionist Party
John Blair: South Antrim, Alliance Party
John O'Dowd: Upper Bann, Sinn Féin
Karen Mullan: Foyle, Sinn Féin  
Keith Buchanan: Mid Ulster, Democratic Unionist Party
Kellie Armstrong: Strangford, Alliance Party
Linda Dillon: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin
Liz Kimmins: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin  
Maolíosa McHugh: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin    
Mark H Durkan: Foyle, Social Democratic and Labour Party
Martina Anderson: Foyle, Sinn Féin
Maurice Bradley: East Londonderry, Democratic Unionist Party
Mike Nesbitt: Strangford, Ulster Unionist Party
Naomi Long: East Belfast and leader of the Alliance Party
Órlaithí Flynn: West Belfast, Sinn Féin  
Pam Cameron: South Antrim, Democratic Unionist Party
Pat Sheehan: West Belfast, Sinn Féin
Paul Frew: North Antrim, Democratic Unionist Party
Paula Bradley: North Belfast, Democratic Unionist Party
Paula Bradshaw: South Belfast, Alliance Party
Peter Weir: Strangford, Democratic Unionist Party
Philip McGuigan: North Antrim, Sinn Féin
Robbie Butler: Lagan Valley, Ulster Unionist Party
Rosemary Barton: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Ulster Unionist Party
Roy Beggs: East Antrim, Ulster Unionist Party
Sean Lynch: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin
Sinéad Ennis: South Down, Sinn Féin
Steve Aiken: South Antrim, and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
Stewart Dickson: East Antrim, Alliance Party
William Humphrey: North Belfast, Democratic Unionist Party
William Irwin: Newry and Armagh, Democratic Unionist Party

Members of Parliament (MPs)

Oliver Dowden: Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Brandon Lewis: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Louise Haigh: Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Chris Hazzard: South Down, Sinn Féin
Claire Hanna: Belfast South, Social Democratic and Labour Party
Colum Eastwood: Foyle, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Francie Molloy: Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin
Jeffrey Donaldson: Lagan Valley, parliamentary leader of Democratic Unionist Part
John Finucane: Belfast North, Sinn Féin
Michelle Gildernew: Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Féin  
Micky Brady: Newry and Armagh, Sinn Féin
Órfhlaith Begley: West Tyrone, Sinn Féin
Paul Maskey: Belfast West, Sinn Féin
Stephen Farry: North Down, Alliance Party

House of Lords

Baroness Margaret Ritchie of Downpatrick: Non-affiliated
Baroness May Blood: Retired
Baron Empey: Ulster Unionist Party
Baron Kilclooney: Non-affiliated
Baron Rogan: Ulster Unionist Party
Lord Hay of Ballyore: Democratic Unionist Party Life peer

Seanad Éireann

Senator Niall Ó Donnaghaile, Sinn Féin
Senator Elisha McCallion, Sinn Féin

Trade union, industry and civic society representatives

North Down and Ards Council of Trade Unions
Belfast and District Trades Union Council
Ballymena and Antrim Trades Union Council
Craigavon Trades Union Council
Derry Trades Union Council
Fermanagh Trades Council
Omagh and District Trades Union Council
Mid Ulster Trade Union Council

Patricia King: General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Owen Reidy: Assistant General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Gerry Murphy: President, ICTU, Northern Ireland Secretary, INTO
Frances O’Grady: Trade Union Congress
Sharan Burrow: General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation
Esther Lynch: Deputy General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation

Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union
Communications Workers Union
Financial Services Union
Fire Brigades Union
Prison Officers Association
Royal College of Midwives
Ulster Teachers Union
UNISON, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland
Manufacturing Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action

Brian Gormally: Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice
Les Allamby: Chief Commissioner, Human Rights Commission Northern Ireland
Patrick Corrigan: Northern Ireland Programme Director, Amnesty International

Belfast Jewish Community Council
Rev Chris Hudson: Moderator of the non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland
Rev Harold Good
Fr Martin Magill PP: St John's Parish, Belfast
Archbishop Eamon Martin
Dr Wasif Naeem: Chair, Belfast Islamic Centre
Rev Dr William Henry: Moderator of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church in Ireland
Adam Patterson: Screenwriter
Clare Allen: Author and journalist
Declan Lawn: Screenwriter
Cllr Eamon McCann: Journalist
Felicity McCall: Author and journalist
J. B. Vallely: Artist and musician
Julieann Campbell: Author and journalist
Nichola McKee Corner
Sara Canning
Trevor Ringland MBE