NI journalist quits union ruling body over Jamie Bryson membership

Loyalist blogger Jamie Brysons membership of the NUJ was upheld after he appeared before an appeal panel in London
Loyalist blogger Jamie Brysons membership of the NUJ was upheld after he appeared before an appeal panel in London

The secretary of the Belfast branch of the National Union of Journalists has tendered his resignation from the organisation’s national supervisory body after it upheld a membership application by loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson.

Mr Bryson’s application first made headlines in August, with the Belfast and District branch issuing repeated statements on social media accounts to deny he was an NUJ member.

At the time he protested that he had joined online and was paying a monthly National Union of Journalists (NUJ) subscription as a blogger.

After a very public debate, Mr Bryson attended an NUJ hearing in London on December 12 which concluded that the Belfast branch had acted “entirely appropriately” but that he was “eligible” to become a member.

The final decision was ratified by the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) – its main supervisory body – on January 13.

An NUJ spokeswoman told the News Letter: “The NUJ can confirm that Jamie Bryson has been admitted as a freelance, temporary member. Jamie Bryson exercised his appeal against the decision of Belfast and District branch not to admit him to membership and his appeal has been successful.”

However, Belfast and District branch secretary Ciarán Ó Maoláin told the News Letter that he does not accept the decision.

“Jamie Bryson is not a proper person to be in the union and his membership should have been rejected because he is not a journalist,” he said.

“The Belfast committee will meet on Friday to discuss the issue.”

Mr Ó Maoláin – who shares a position on the NEC with another Northern Ireland official on a job share basis – was not present when it ratified the decision.

He said on Facebook that he had asked the NEC “to accept my resignation” from that body, and “declare the Northern Ireland seat vacant, and conduct an election for the remaining term of office”.

Mr Bryson said: “It is absolutely clear that I meet the criteria. I have followed the NUJ’s own rules and processes and quite rightly been ratified as a member.

“If the outraged individuals want to be angry then they should direct it towards those that framed the criteria, not me for using it.”

He said he joined the NUJ in the hope that it would protect him should the PSNI press him to reveal his sources on the recent Nama controversy, which he blogged about and gave evidence at Stormont.