Analysis: Loyalists targeting journalists are taping up their own mouths

Protesters in front of police lines at the Woodvale Road on the Twelfth evening

Protesters in front of police lines at the Woodvale Road on the Twelfth evening


Loyalists have complained that the media is not reporting their side of the story — yet several journalists attempting to do that have been intimidated.

Though loutish behaviour has obscured the loyalist message in recent days, some of their grievances have logic.

Those who abided by a stringent Parades Commission determination in Ardoyne last year felt punished by a commission that rewarded rioting dissident republicans by banning the loyal orders.

But, as they rail against the commission, there is an apparent contradiction on the loyalist side of the divide.

On Tuesday night, I went to the Woodvale Road for the third night since the Orange parade was halted there on the Twelfth. At a protest on Twaddell Avenue where few would speak as I asked them to explain why they were protesting, Alfie McCrory — who was happy to be interviewed — said that “these people see the media as being biased that’s why people don’t talk to you”.

Just two hours later – after that peaceful protest had dispersed and a crowd on nearby Woodvale Road had lit a burning barricade across the road – I was asked by two young men who emerged from the gathering where I was from.

Explaining that I was a journalist from the News Letter (though they seemed to not even register my employer), their anger was evident as they shouted: “Get out.”

When asked why, they said: “Because there’s going to be trouble”; they didn’t want journalists around.

In the event there was limited trouble that night and about an hour later the police were guarding a largely deserted road.

But on the other side of the city a French photojournalist was mugged by a loyalist mob who stole the camera from which he makes his livelihood.

Though every section of society accuses the media (which is made up of individuals from virtually every political, religious and social background) of bias — and there are times when those criticisms are justified — it is extraordinarily self-defeatist to refuse to explain one’s cause publicly.

It is hardly coincidental that in recent weeks — and indeed on Tuesday — leading politicians tossed around accusations of media “bias” like confetti.

None of those MLAs intended their words to be used to justify threats or attacks, yet relentless claims that all journalists are skewed spindoctors create a dangerous environment.

If loyalist spokesmen are not sufficiently articulating their case, they should find new representatives to present their case.

But those refusing to explain why they are protesting — and especially those threatening reporters — might as well tape their own mouths closed.




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