THE president of the World Association of Newspapers has written to Gerry Adams to ask him to retract a comment he made about holding a newspaper editor at gunpoint.
The association, which represents 18,000 publications in more than 120 countries, said it had "serious concern" at comments made by Adams which were "making light of violence against journalists".
The leader of Sinn Fein told a fundraising dinner in New York last week about how Michael Collins held the editor of the Irish Independent at gunpoint.
"He went in, sent volunteers in, to the offices, held the editor at gunpoint, and destroyed the entire printing press. That's what he did. Now I can just see the headline in the Independent tomorrow, I'm obviously not advocating that," the Louth TD said at the event.
Now Tomas Brunegard, president of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, has condemned Mr Adams for joking about "holding editors at gunpoint".
"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.
"At best, it is highly insensitive. Two INM 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.
"We respectfully remind you that even a facetious reference to attacking journalists is entirely inappropriate," Mr Brunegard added. "We respectfully call on you to retract these comments and to publicly affirm your abhorrence of all forms of violence against journalists."
Earlier this week, the National Union of Journalists Irish organiser Seamus Dooley said: "As the NUJ opposed Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act, we also oppose threats to journalists from politicians.
"It is ironic that he should make his comments in America, where freedom of expression is prized.
"I also would remind Mr Adams that journalists are workers who deserve the right to be treated with dignity in the conduct of their job."
SEE PAGES 14 & 15