NUJ LIFE MEMBERS BELFAST

Michael Fisher presented with NUJ life membership by Seamus Dooley  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

Michael Fisher presented with NUJ life membership by Seamus Dooley Photo: © Kevin Cooper

At a meeting organised by the Belfast and District Branch of the National Union of Journalists a number of reporters and a photographer were awarded life membership of the union, having belonged to the NUJ for over forty years. I was presented with my certificate by the Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley and somehow I managed to receive two of them! Seamus pointed out that my father Des is also a long-time NUJ member (he helped to start the Irish South Eastern Branch when he started work in Carlow) as is my sister Carolyn who also worked in RTÉ.

Michael Fisher presented with 1913 lockout centenary coin by Gerry Curran  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

Michael Fisher presented with 1913 lockout centenary coin by Gerry Curran Photo: © Kevin Cooper

The Cathaoirleach of the Irish Executive Council Gerry Curran presented me with a limited edition coin, issued last year to mark the centenary of the 1913 lockout in Dublin, which I was very proud to receive in recognition of my contribution to the NUJ in Ireland and Britain. I joined the union in July 1974, becoming a member of the London Radio Branch when I worked in the BBC Radio Newsroom at Broadcasting House as a News Trainee. I later joined the Birmingham Branch when I moved to the West Midlands in 1975. I then joined Dublin Broadcasting Branch on taking up a position with RTÉ News in Dublin in January 1979. I transferred to Belfast in August 1984, becoming a member of Northern Ireland Broadcasting Branch, subsequently amalgamated with Belfast and District.

NUJ life member Michael Fisher with former RTÉ News cameraman Bryan Drysdale  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

NUJ life member Michael Fisher with former RTÉ News cameraman Bryan Drysdale Photo: © Kevin Cooper

I remember the Broadcasting Branch Treasurer at the time was Austin Hunter of BBC Northern Ireland. He has also been awarded life membership (44 years a member), along with two of his former BBC colleagues, David Lynas and Noel McCartney. Noel who received his certificate two years ago and had served on the union’s National Executive Council, was congratulated on the achievement by Gerry Curran.

NUJLOGOA fifth life membership goes to photographer Alan Lewis, a familiar figure in Belfast media circles. He joined the NUJ 42 years ago. He received his certificate from the President of the International Federation of Journalists, Jim Boumelha, another NUJ stalwart.

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NUJ MATTERS

NUJ Belfast Branch

NUJ Belfast Branch

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.

Barry McCall & Claire Savage

Barry McCall & Claire Savage

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.