Enda Kenny condemns threats against journalists in Republic of Ireland

Irish police officers attend the scene on Poplar Row, following the shooting of a man in Dublin Image copyright PA
Image caption The shooting of Eddie Hutch on Monday night is believed to have been a 'reprisal' for the murder of David Byrne at a boxing weigh-in last week

The Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has condemned the threats made against a number of journalists in the Republic of Ireland.

The threats follow two killings in a gangland feud in Dublin in the past week.

The journalists have been "formally notified" by police that their safety is at risk from organised criminals.

Mr Kenny said "journalists must be afforded the freedom to go about their jobs without fear of reprisal".

In a statement, Independent News and Media (INM), which owns the Irish Independent newspaper, said it was working with police to increase security around its reporters.

Its Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae said they "would not be deterred".

He added: "This is an outrageous threat to the freedom of the press in Ireland and we are taking the threats with the utmost seriousness.

'Formally notified'

"Our media group will not be deterred from serving the public interest and highlighting the threat to society at large posed by such criminals."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Enda Kenny said one of the pillars of a functioning democracy is freedom of speech

Group managing editor of the INM, Edward McCann, said the "people in question" had been "formally notified" by Irish police that their safety was at risk from organised criminals."

Timeline of shootings

5 February - One man, is shot dead and two others are injured when masked gunmen open fire at a boxing weigh-in event at Dublin's Regency hotel. The dead man is later named as 33-year-old David Byrne.

8 February - A group purporting to be the Continuity IRA, a dissident republican faction, claims responsibility for the hotel shootings. However, hours later a second statement, also claiming to be from the Continuity IRA, denies any involvement.

A second shooting takes place in inner city Dublin on Monday evening in what police believe could be a reprisal for David Byrne's murder. The second victim is named as Eddie Hutch Snr from North Strand.

9 February - Irish police say they are to establish a permanent armed support unit for Dublin in the wake of the gangland feud.

Mr McCann said the paper was well aware of the dangers that journalists faced.

"INM has lost two journalists in the last 20 years," he said.

"Veronica Guerin and then there was Martin O'Hagan in Northern Ireland so we're well aware as a group of the dangers posed to journalists."

'Gravely concerned'

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Irish secretary, Seamus Dooley, said he was "gravely concerned at the development".

"Journalists and media organisations will not be intimidated by such threats, which have no place in a democratic society," he said.

On Tuesday, Irish police said they were working to set up a permanent armed support unit for Dublin in the wake of the gangland-style shootings.

BBC News NI reporter Lisa McAlister, who is in Dublin, said gardaĆ­ could not comment on individuals or the threats facing them, but said they do have processes in place and take all threats seriously.

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