World newspapers condemn Gerry Adams editor ‘at gunpoint’ comment

‘Even a facetious reference to attacking journalists is entirely inappropriate’

Comments by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in New York recently about holding an editor at gunpoint have come in for widespread criticism. Photograph: The Irish Times

Comments by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in New York recently about holding an editor at gunpoint have come in for widespread criticism. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Bodies representing newspapers and editors across the world have joined organisations such as the National Union of Journalists and the National Newspapers of Ireland in decrying recent comments by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams about holding an editor at gunpoint.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) today condemned Mr Adams for his remarks at last week’s Friends of Sinn Fein fundraising event in New York.

Mr Adams’ comments followed on coverage of the Mairia Cahill case in Independent Newspapers.

He said the group regularly attacked Sinn Féin while also referring to how the Irish Independent called for the leaders of the 1916 Rising to be executed.

He then and described how Michael Collins dealt with a critical press.

Gerry Adams speaks at Sinn Fein fundraiser in New York

“He went in, sent volunteers in, to the offices, held the editor at gunpoint, and destroyed the entire printing press. That’s what he did. Now I can just see the headline in the Independent tomorrow, I’m obviously not advocating that,” he said.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and the World Editors Forum together represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.

Both organisations deplored Mr Adams’ comments while WAN-IFRA wrote to the Sinn Fein president.

It expressed serious concern that his remarks may be viewed as a “veiled threat against Independent News & Media journalists and editors, whom Sinn Féin has strongly criticised for their scrutiny in investigating an IRA rape scandal from 1997 that has only recently come to light”.

“Two Independent News & Media journalists have been murdered in the past 20 years,” WAN-IFRA said in the letter.

Veronica Guerin was shot dead in Dublin because of her reporting on criminal operations in 1996; and Martin O’Hagan was murdered in Northern Ireland by the Loyalist Volunteer Force in 2001.

“We respectfully remind you that even a facetious reference to attacking journalists is entirely inappropriate.”

The organisations also pointed out that so far this year 42 journalists have been killed while carrying out their job.