Irish Republican News · August 24, 2012
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: UDA threat to Belfast journalist
UDA threat to Belfast journalist

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The unionist paramilitary UDA is believed to be behind a death threat against a Belfast journalist, despite a belated denial issued on behalf of the group.

The reporter’s name and mobile telephone number were painted on walls in a number of locations across the city over the weekend.

Some units of the UDA have been accused of engaging in organised crime, ranging from drug-dealing to extortion. The journalist had been writing about the UDA and it is believed this is the reason the person was targeted.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) asked that the name of the journalist not be publicised.

The NUJ has now offered to meet the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) -- the self-styled political ‘advisers’ to the UDA -- after it denied any specific threat had been made.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said that the fact that the reporter’s name had been painted on walls on strategically placed locations was a clear indication that the intention was to intimidate an investigative journalist.

She said: “The very direct threat to his life cannot be ignored. In so far as the UDA statement goes, we are giving it a guarded welcome,” she said.

Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the NUJ, said a direct threat had been made by telephone on Saturday August 18, and it was not the first issued to the journalist.

He said the threat was “not imaginary, it does exist.”

Several journalists and reporters have been attacked by loyalists. In 2001, the Loyalist Volunteer Force shot dead the Sunday World reporter Martin O’Hagan in front of his wife as the couple returned home from a night out in Lurgan, County Armagh.

His colleague Jim Campbell, the paper’s one-time Ulster editor, was seriously wounded after the Ulster Volunteer Force shot him at his home.

BOMB BLAST

Meanwhile, eirigi has accused the PSNI of playing down a bombing which destroyed a phone box near a Catholic church in County Armagh last Sunday, August 12.

The PSNI statement said that detectives based at Ardmore in Newry were investigating reports of an explosion at a phone box and that “the extent of the damage was too great to have been caused by a firework”.

A spokesperson for eirigi in the Newry area, Stephen Murney, said: “At no time since last Sunday has the PSNI mentioned that the seat of the explosion was less than twenty yards away from the entrance to St Patrick’s catholic church at Ballyargan.

“Many people will no doubt find it remarkable that the PSNI did not deem the actual location of this blast and its close proximity to a Catholic church to be of any factual relevance or to be indicative of a sectarian motive from those responsible for causing the explosion.”

Mr Murney said he believed there was a small unionist grouping intent on stirring up sectarian tensions in a rural area infamous for loyalist paramilitary attacks.

“That the PSNI is seeking to downplay that reality is a matter which should be of major concern to all,” he said.

© 2012 Irish Republican News