The President of the National Union of Journalists Barry McCall from Dublin (third from right) was in Belfast for meetings proving that membership of the NUJ matters. Barry is the second Irish member in succession to hold the post, which is for an eighteen months term until the next delegate meeting in London in April 2014. From that date onwards, the President will serve for a two-year period, to tie in with the biennial delegate meetings. The decision to move to a meeting every two years was taken at the DM in Newcastle-on-Tyne last October, in an attempt to make financial savings.
Belfast and District Branch supported the cost-cutting measures proposed by the National Executive Council and has decided to write to the General Secretary Michelle Stansistreet to congratulate her on the way she and the officials dealt with the very difficult situation facing the union. The President reported that good progress had been made but that the pensions issue would be the subject of consultation with the union’s staff in the new financial year in April.
The day began with a meeting of the Northern Ireland sub-committee of the Irish Executive Council, which I chaired. One of the main matters to be discussed was journalist safety, following recent attacks on and threats to members of the media. It was proposed that a two-day exhibition be held at Dublin Castle in June, during the Congress of the International Federation of Journalists, during which members of Belfast and District and Derry & North West branches would be available to network with visitors.
It is also intended to hold a half day briefing session open to all media workers and employers in the North about the safety of reporters, camera operators and photographers covering public disorder. One of the issues that will be raised will be the use of social media during riot situations. The committee also noted the Irish Secretary’s expression of “grave disappointment” at the announcement last month by the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland that there will be no prosecution in the Martin O’Hagan murder case. Martin was shot dead by loyalist paramiltaries in Lurgan as he walked home in 2001.
The branch also received a letter of thanks from the BBC chapel, who had been on strike yesterday at Broadcasting House. A chapel representative said the support was appreciated. It was also pointed out that there was a good level of support for the strikers from members of the public.