There was widespread condemnation following the latest loyalist threat to shoot a journalist. Graffiti has appeared in a number of locations in east Belfast with the name of reporter Patricia Devlin along with cross hairs.
It is only the latest threat to the Sunday World reporter. Ms Devlin faced threats from loyalist paramilitaries two months ago, when she received a threat to herself and her baby son signed with the name of a neo-Nazi terror group, Combat 18, which has links to loyalist paramilitaries. She was forced to threaten a legal action against the PSNI for its failure to investigate.
Speaking out tonight, she said “it’s clear to everyone who and what is behind it, and why”, referred to the ongoing loyalist intimidation in east Belfast. “I will continue to report on the thugs and bullies terrorising their own communities,” she said.
Justice Minister Naomi Long described the sick graffiti as a “chilling sight.” The Alliance Party Leader said she, “remained fully committed to tackling threats made to journalists”.
“This is a chilling sight. In Northern Ireland in 2021, no reporter should be the target of such a sinister threat simply for doing their job,” she said.
The threats come as part of a disturbing pattern which has seen a number of journalists face death threats from loyalist paramilitaries and related crime gangs in recent months, particularly the South East Antrim UDA (Ulster Defence Association).
Sunday World editor Brian Farrell said the Stormont authorities should take a zero-tolerance approach to such threats. He said the company was taking the threat “very seriously”.
“Rigorous investigative journalism is a basic requirement of a democratic society and we’ll not be intimated from doing our job.”
Meanwhile, there was also a threat against former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams that appeared on Belfast council property at a loyalist demonstration at the entrance to Belfast City last Saturday.
The banner, which was attached to the fencing at the front of the City Hall, included an image of Mr Adams under the title ‘Tick-Tock’, with abusive and sectarian language underneath.
“The author/authors claim to have killed one person and clearly signal their intent to kill me,” said Mr Adams. “I believe the banner is a breach of the Council’s bye-laws and constitutes a hate crime and a threat to kill.”
A formal complaint has been made to the council by the Sinn Féin group leader Cllr Ciaran Beattie.