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World’s Press Condemns Sinn Féin Leader’s Remarks On Violence Against Journalists

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) have condemned Ireland’s Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams for his recent remarks surrounding violence against journalists.

Mr Adams revealed at a fundraising event in New York last week how the Provisional IRA previously dealt with a critical press, describing an incident in 1919 in which Michael Collins ordered a raid on the offices of the Irish Independent.

Mr Adams was heard to say: “He went in, sent volunteers in, to the offices, held the editor at gun point 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…”.

Mr Adams repeated the remark in a blogpost on 7 November, but omitted the final qualification.

In a letter sent to Mr Adams, WAN-IFRA expressed serious concern that his remarks may be viewed as a veiled threat against Independent News & Media journalists and editors, whom Sinn Féin has strongly criticised for their scrutiny in investigating an IRA rape scandal from 1997 that has only recently come to light.

“Two Independent News & Media journalists have been murdered in the past 20 years,” WAN-IFRA’s letter read. “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.”

So far this year, 42 journalists have been killed while carrying out their profession. The UN-designated International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists marks the global campaign against impunity for those who attack journalists, and others, for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Mr Adams’ comments came shortly after the inaugural 2 November date.

To read WAN-IFRA’s full letter, click here.

WAN-IFRA's impunity campaign.

For more information on WAN-IFRA’s press freedom work, click here.