Unionists condemn loyalist media threat

Members of the UDA, pictured in 1999
Members of the UDA, pictured in 1999

Political parties have spoken out after a journalist was threatened by loyalists.

The National Union of Journalists said that the journalist – who it did not name – had been “advised by police of an imminent threat to their safety from a section of the UDA, as a direct result of their reporting on criminal activities associated with that paramilitary organisation”.

The statement on Monday also did not name which faction of the UDA was responsible for the threat, or which publication the journalist worked for.

Gavin Robinson, DUP MP for East Belfast, said: “Society upholds freedom of the press. Nobody should feel intimidated as a result of the work they do.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: “As we prepare to mark the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement, there is no doubt that the UDA should have gone a long time ago along with all other paramilitary groups.

“Sadly, the reality is although many are attempting to transition from conflict to peace there remains a hard core criminal element within the UDA that is engaged in extortion, drug dealing and multiple criminal activities.”

He added that he would “engage with those paramilitary elements in Northern Ireland who wish to transition and move to purely peaceful and lawful activity”.

“It is right to view them as part of the problem but to move forward they also need to be part of the solution,” he said.