Thursday 12 December 2019

SF leader 'should say sorry' for gun remarks

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Martin O'Hagan
Veronica Guerin

Emma Jane Hade and John Downing

There is mounting pressure on Gerry Adams to retract his remarks about holding a newspaper editor at gunpoint and to apologise for the shocking statement which he made publicly at a Sinn Fein dinner.

The international Investigators, Reporters and Editors (IRE) group has called on the Sinn Fein leader to issue an apology for the insensitive comments, which he openly made at a five-star party dinner in New York last week.

"When reporters around the world are being kidnapped and murdered for doing their jobs, jokes about killing a journalist are taken seriously," said Sarah Cohen, the IRE board president.

"An apology could make that point to the public and others who might harm reporters for covering the news."

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents more than 600,000 members around the globe, said they oppose "any threats against journalists or media workers".

And the organisation's deputy general secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "Such comments only serve to undermine media rights and cannot be tolerated. It is deeply troubling to hear a statement coming from a democratically elected politician."

Mr Adams went on to reiterate his callous comments online days later. "And when the Irish Independent condemned his actions as 'murder most foul', what did Michael Collins do? He dispatched his men to the office of the Independent and held the editor at gunpoint as they dismantled the entire printing press and destroyed it," he wrote.

Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins last night said that he intends raising Mr Adams' comments in the Dail tomorrow.

The Limerick TD said such remarks should never be uttered - either in public or private - by someone who purports to lead a political party and that they were too serious to be ignored.

"These comments cannot be described as a joke as they are remarks in very bad taste," Mr Collins added.

Two Independent News and Media journalists were shot dead for their efforts in exposing serious crime, Veronica Guerin in 1996 and Martin O'Hagan in 2001.

The International Press Institute (IPI) told the Irish Independent that the Louth TD's remarks are not "a laughing matter".

"It is in very poor taste, and worst case scenario it could give someone the impression that violence against journalists would be acceptable," said IPI advisor Steven Ellis.

"We would really hope that political leaders would exercise their public platform a little more responsibly.

"We would really hope that at the very least, he would disavow these remarks and make it plan, explicitly and publicly, that violence against journalists is never acceptable, even when you disagree with their political opinion or their perceived opinion, or their coverage."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein press officer Sean Mac Bradaigh yesterday rounded on the NUJ's general secretary Seamus Dooley who criticised Mr Adams's remarks in an abusive tweet.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "Is there a more useless functionary than NUJ's Seamus Dooley? Gladly gives @Independent_ie anti-Adams copy but can't defend own members."

The IRA previously issued threats to the former editor of 'The Kerryman', Seamus McConville and his family, who received garda protection for a month after republicans in the area threatened to shoot him if he published an article that was seen as unfavourable. The piece was written by the late Con Houlihan and was critical of the Price sisters, Marian and Dolours, who were jailed for their part in the London bombings of 1973.

Mr McConville, who passed away in 2011, was only days in the editor's chair in 1974 when he received the death threat.

Irish Independent

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