Irish premier Enda Kenny has condemned threats levelled against a number of journalists following reporting of the latest gangland killings in Dublin.
The Independent News and Media (INM) group said gardai had formally notified a number of its reporters that their safety was at risk from organised criminals.
The sinister development comes in the wake of widespread coverage in Ireland and beyond of two murders linked to a crime gang feud.
Mr Kenny said: “On behalf of the Government and myself I deplore and condemn any threat made to any journalist in this jurisdiction. One of the pillars of a functioning democracy is freedom of speech and in any self-respecting society, journalists must be afforded the freedom to go about their jobs without fear of reprisal. Those who engaged in the recent killings on our streets will be brought to justice and no resource will be spared in doing so.
“The journalists at whom these threats have been levelled have our full support as do all journalists bravely going about their daily duties.”
INM said it was working with gardai to strengthen security around the threatened journalists and had taken every precaution to ensure their safety.
The organisation said it had decided, after consulting with the reporters, to make the threats public in order to highlight the danger posed to the media.
INM Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae said: “This is an outrageous threat to the freedom of the press in Ireland and we are taking the threats with the utmost seriousness. The safety of our journalists is of paramount importance. It is disturbing that threats of this nature have emerged as we approach the20th anniversary of the death of our colleague Veronica Guerin, who was murdered by criminals for exposing their activities. Our media group will not be deterred from serving the public interest and highlighting the threat to society at large posed by such criminals.”
Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: “We have learned with shock of threats against journalists working with INM. We are gravely concerned at this latest development, which follows the two recent senseless murders in Dublin. Journalists and media organisations will not be intimidated by such threats, which have no place in a democratic society.
“Our immediate thoughts are with those under threat and their families. No journalists should be placed under threat for doing their job. We remind all journalists to remain vigilant and to be mindful of their personal safety. Employers and editorial managers must continue to support, training and guidance to staff and freelance journalists covering dangerous situations. INM has told me it is supporting those under threat and is mindful of their obligations.”
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