Last week Rusty noted how journalist Eammon MacDermott had property confiscated by the PSNI as part of an investigation into armed republican activity in Derry. While some may think the fact he was an ex-prisoner could have influenced the PSNI reaction, British policing has a long history of heavy handedness when it comes to freedom of the press in Ireland.
Back in 1999 Ed Moloney faced gaol over refusing to pass on interview notes with William Stobie. Moloney won the case.
Liam Clarke and his wife Kathrine Johnston were arrested and had notes, files etc taken in an attempt to identify the source of leaked documents that embarassed Sinn Féin and the British Government in 2003. No case was brought against them or any other person.
Suzanne Breen recently won a case brought against her by the PSNI over her refusal to hand over notes on Real IRA interviews.
However, this week saw another ‘scoop’ from Irish News journalist Allison Morris as the paper carried a lengthy interview with ‘a leading member of the dissident group Oglaigh na hEireann’. (Irish News not online without sub)
As yet the Irish News offices haven’t been raided, neither has Morris’ home, she retains all her property and certainly hasn’t been arrested or threatened with gaol or the courts.
Might this have something to do with the 15 pages of ‘We say stop’ coverage the Irish News ran alongside their exclusive? Did they report the right way? Maybe the PSNI have learnt a lesson on dealing with the press in just a few days?
Whatever the reason, these Irish News exclusives that receive no PSNI reaction stand in stark contrast to the treatment others continue to receive from the police for reporting on similar areas.