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Audio: Gerry Adams' 'gunpoint' remarks emerge online as world newspaper body urges him to promptly withdraw them


Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

An audio clip of the controversial 'editor at gunpoint' comments that Gerry Adams made at a $500-a-plate New York dinner have emerged online, as the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers has criticised the remarks and urged him to promptly withdraw them.

Listen here to Gerry Adams's joking threats of violence against journalists.

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Responding to the Sinn Fein leader's comments at a fundraising function in New York and in a subsequent online blog, the organisation - which represents 18,000 publications across 120 countries - said they were seriously concerned by such remarks which made light of violence against journalists.

Tomas Brunegard, the president of the organisation known as WAN-IFRA, has written to the Sinn Fein leader to say his comment was not acceptable.

"We are seriously concerned that this remark may be viewed as a veiled threat against Independent News & Media journalists and editors, whom you have criticised for investigating the Mairia Cahill rape scandal," Mr Brunegard said.

However, late last night Mr Adams issued a statement saying he would not withdraw his remark.

"I have no intention of withdrawing my remarks," he said.

The WAN-IFRA letter noted that Mr Adams "joked about holding editors at gunpoint and criticised journalists who had sought to expose the involvement of Provisional IRA members in the cover up of a rape".

It added that he also invoked the memory of Michael Collins responding to press criticism by ordering his men to hold the Irish Independent editor at gunpoint while they smashed print machinery.

"We respectfully remind you that even a facetious reference to attacking journalists is entirely inappropriate. So far this year, 42 journalists have been killed while carrying out their profession," he added.

Mr Brunegard said that Mr Adams's comments in relation to Independent Newspapers & Media (INM) was at best insensitive. "Two Independent News & Media journalists have been murdered in the past 20 years: Veronica Guerin was shot dead in Dublin because of her reporting on criminal operations in 1996; and Martin O'Hagan was murdered in Northern Ireland by the Loyalist Volunteer Force in 2001," Mr Brunegard said.

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The letter concludes with a direct challenge to the Sinn Fein leader and urges a prompt reply. "We respectfully call on you to retract these comments and to publicly affirm your abhorrence of all forms of violence against journalists."

The Sinn Fein leader's comments were also condemned by the newspaper organisation National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI). NNI chairman Vincent Crowley said the comments showed a lack of understanding of the role of a free press.

"Whilst a free press may sometimes make uncomfortable reading for politicians and others, it remains the indispensable means of keeping the public informed and holding those in positions of power accountable," said Mr Crowley.

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