The NUJ has condemned the treatment of a reporter with the Irish News who had to be escorted from Belfast’s magistrate’s court when a gang threated to cut her throat.
Reporter Allison Morris was called a “Fenian bastard” and a “Fenian c**t” by the gang, the NUJ said, and she was approached in an “intimidatory manner” during an interval at the hearing of a man accused of assaulting two police officers.
Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, called on the courts to investigate.
“The court service must examine this incident,” he said. “Court reporters must be allowed to do their work without threats. On this occasion intimidating gestures were made towards the press box during the court case, a journalist was abused and eventually had to be escorted out of the building by security staff.
“Without the security staff the situation could have been much worse. It was a terrifying experience and one no court reporter should have to endure.”
NUJ president Barry McCall added: “The media must be free to report on the courts without fear of violence or intimidation. Any attempt to undermine that right is an attempt to undermine the principles which underpin the judicial system.”
In July last year, the NUJ expressed concerns about an “upward trend” in attacks on journalists in Northern Ireland after a French photographer was assaulted during rioting in east Belfast.
In May, the NUJ condemned death threats issued by loyalist paramilitaries against two journalists in the region, and in June the union revealed that another journalist had been informed by the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI) of a death threat made by dissident republicans.