Irish News doesn’t always err on the side of caution

The Irish News photo coverage of the third arrest at Thursday’s RNU protest at Alliance HQ was a tale of two halves – while they decided to hide the identities of the PSNI officers arresting a 16 year old, they didn’t give that same protection to the arrested youth.

When UTV covered this story (TV coverage available via link), before the Irish News would have gone to press, they protected the identity of the minor along with those of the police (neither outlet protected the identities of the adults arrested – and legally there was no consideration that should lead them to consider that).

While there is no absolute legal compulsion to automatically mask the identities of police officers, in this case both media outlets decided to err on the side of caution and protect the public servants – which could be questioned as the defence of ‘reasonable excuse’ to any attempt to use anti-terrorism legislation for publishing photographs seems available to a reputable media outlet covering a public order incident.

UTV erred on the side of caution with images of the youth being arrested, disguising his identity, they may have assumed after he was charged he was in the Youth Court system and therefore automatically benefited from legal protection over having his identity revealed (relevant legislation).

If a young person charged with an offence, they will usually appear before a youth court

Members of the public are not allowed in a youth court to listen to the case, nor can the identity or photograph of any young person concerned in the trial be published in the press.

I’ve attempted to seek clarification on why the Irish News did not apply the same caution over identifying the youth as they did for the police (the level of caution UTV deemed necessary) unfortunately I didn’t receive a reply, though they did respond to Mick. The image remains available via their digital edition and while I have access to it I cannot reproduce due to copyright issues and a small concern over possibly leaving the site vulnerable to contempt of court.

It would have been interesting to find out why the Irish News was/is sensitive when it comes to publishing legitimate photographs of the PSNI in action and at the same time has no sensitivity about publishing a photograph of a young person facing criminal charges.

ADDS: In the Policing Board report Human Rights Thematic Enquiry Children & Young People (huge PDF, that bizarrely doesn’t permit copying) extensive consideration was given to the legal and Human Rights concerns that arise in publishing details/photographs of young people suspected of criminal offences. Amongst numerous conclusions they had this to say:

If the suspect is a child, the level of protection afforded is greater still. The privacy of a child or young person should be very carefully protected and very great weight must be given to the welfare of the child or young person. Dispensing with the young person’s prima facie right to privacy (for example for the purposes of more easily identifying suspects) by the release of images of children wanted for questioning is a decision which is difficult to justify save in exceptional cases where the safety of the general public is at stake.

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  • Normally Id agree.
    But as the 16 year old was quite happy to be on the protest despite his youth….then he can hardly object that there was a problem just because he was arrested.
    As the event was about getting publicity and the protestors were about for quite some time, perhaps the more mature protestors could have told the youth to go home.
    If youre too young to have your face on TV or in the Irish News…..then youre too young to be protesting.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Should RNU be charged with some sort of child abuse? involving minors in what is probably illegal activity surely can’t be legal!

  • granni trixie

    Mark: surely your sympathy is misplaced…whatabout the fright to the three staffers,bearing in mind (as I said in previousl post) – that to get in the door on one pretext and to act as though you intended harm is frightening especially as in recent times there were attempts to wreak havoc out the back of Alliance HQ.

  • Cynic2

    Perhaps we could take a leaf out of the book of some English councils and terminate his family’s tenancy because of his (alleged ) crimes?

    I am sure it would be a breach of someone’s human rights but with this shower, frankly, sod it.

  • Cynic2

    “whatabout the fright to the three staffers”


    You really are so yesterday. Their feelings don’t count as they are not republicans and therefore cannot be ‘oppressed’. Do try and keep up dear

  • I wonder what James Kelly (RIP) of Irish News would have said about it. I dont want to pre-empt the tribute thread that the veteran journalist (80 plus years) will get here……but I suspect that in the great scheme of things he would not have paid much attention.
    My impression was that the Party concerned had issued a statement that the matter is in the hands of the PSNI and that there would be no further statement so “granni trixies” statement of what is alleged to have happened is an interesting development.

  • Awww 16yr – hopefully if convicted we can buck his family out of their housing ex house

    one less blood sucker

    Doing a great job defending repbublican law breakers Mark – keep up the good job

    Now one its a cold house for prods on here

  • Surely one point in concealing the identity of juveniles is the hope that they will grow up and stop offending, so they shouldn’t have to live the rest of their lives with what they did as children.

  • @ Drumlins Rock given your proposal to have RNU charged with child abuse because of the involvement of a 16 year-old involved in one of it’s protests!

    Does that mean the Crown Forces should also be charged with child abuse because their Cadets are trained to kill people?

    Likewise should the RUC/PSNI be charged too because they expose young children to heavy weaponary day and daily in public areas?

  • Children do stupid things due to lack of maturity, and they invariably always grow out of it. That’s why we have a Child Offence law in Canada. Sentences last only until they are 18 and records are then sealed. They are given anonymity and no criminal record appears when background checks are done. There are specific procedures for the most serious offences; murderers can be identified and tried under adult law. Hands up all of us who didn’t do something stupid as kids like shoplifting a chocolate bar or whatever. My forte was “progging” orchards to get a few apples to eat.

  • Drumlins Rock





    that’s the obscure “whataboutery” dealt with, can you answer me this, should RNU deliberately involve a minor in what is probably an illegal action?

  • Turgon

    I am afraid Mark seems likely to be correct here. If there were issues about the police posting pictures of minors after riots in the past then the same issues might be expected to apply here.

    Although the young gentleman in this case may and I stress may be all sorts of bad things (remember he has been convicted of absolutely nothing at this point) the law is there to protect all. It is like the famous comment on rape laws: that they are there to protect “bad” girls too.

  • Intelligence Insider

    ardoyne republican, purely out of interest, what’s your view on organisations that teach children how to kill people and/or expose them to weaponry?

  • “The image remains available via their digital edition and while I have access to it I cannot reproduce due to copyright issues”

    “Copyright issues” my arse. The Irish News will play this card when it suits them and no one else.

    To tell a tale, a few years ago I was sitting in the old Kitchen Bar with my then girlfriend and someone asked us to move aside as he was looking to take a picture of the fire. Low and behold, the next morning there was the two of us on the front page in bright technicolour and on the inside in black and white – the fire could be barely seen in one corner. I rang the Irish News that morning and no one would speak to me about it. Three emails to the news-desk and directly to the photographer received no reply.

    Okay I thought, no big deal. Uncourteous on behalf of the Irish News, but I’d not lose any sleep over it, particularity as a few dozen people had been killed on the West Bank the same afternoon.

    Then a few weeks later a lad died suddenly while playing a game for St Treasa’s on the Glen Road.The Irish News reported this sad and tragic incident on their front page with a headline referring not to the lad that died but to his father who had been convicted of some sleezy event in the US the previous year. As I remember Dinny Cahill, the Antrim hurling manager at the time led a short lived boycott of the Irish News which eventually fell away to nothing.

    Lesson learned, the MSM will always look after their own interests and will publish the angle, no matter how sleazy, that boosts sales. They have no integrity and no loyalty other that the sales figures of the owners the Fitzpatricks and their sponsors the SDLP. Since then I’ve never purchased a copy or given the Stoops a vote.

  • Ulick’s recollection of the sad story of the St Teresa’s player is flawed. His father was in court in the US in highly-publicised circumstances on the same day as he died, not the previous year. The tragedy was also reported by all the main newspapers and broadcasters, not just one outlet, so the context was some distance from the version presented by Ulick.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’ve added an update with a link to the Policing Board report that comments on publishing photographs of young people suspected of crimes.

  • Turgon

    There can be no question that the picture’s release can help identify a suspect to enable his arrest (the person in question having already been both identified and arrested). Therefore any suggestion that publishing the photo could be justified: already dismissed by the Policing Board Report you link to would not even stand as a defence.

  • Turgon

    To make clear my point being that you are spot on here and it is difficult to see any justification for the Irish News’s actions.

  • aquifer

    A key tenet of non violent protest is to be prepared to bear the legal penalties that arise, and that will usually involve identifying yourself as an adherent of a particular political view.

    The adults involved in this provocation bear the responsibility for the welfare of minors involved.

    i.e. They should have thought things through before putting a minor in this position.

    A key concept is that children and minors are not fully responsible for their actions as their judgement is not mature. They should not suffer through their life for early mistakes.

    In the company of adults they may compromise themselves to impress or please those adults, or maybe even through fear when some of those adults are known to have access to firearms.

    e.g. Underage girls in the sex industry may not see themselves as exploited at different stages, but that is what they become, even if they come into the sexual activity first through flattery.

  • I noticed Mark you MP or the Slugger team didnt err on the side of caution when you put these kids faces on Slugger

    Double Standards or what ??

  • michael-mcivor

    belfastjj- those two in your photograph were not being arrested nor did they have to face the courts- unlike that young rnu member-

  • Mark McGregor


    Those children were not subject to legal proceedings. This blog is on the treatment of minors by the media when they are subject to allegations of criminality.

    Nobody is suggesting it is legally questionable to publish photographs of young people in all circumstances.

    Now please leave your trolling in relation to Mooch to his posts and keep it off mine – it’s tedious enough there to be honest.

  • ranger1640

    Getting their ugly mugs in the paper maybe the last thing on their tiny minds.

    The Home Secretary is minded to name and shame, however will this be extended to Northern Ireland, that is the question???

  • ranger1640

    Mark, “UTV erred on the side of caution with images of the youth being arrested, disguising his identity, they may have assumed after he was charged he was in the Youth Court system and therefore automatically benefited from legal protection over having his identity revealed (relevant legislation)”.

    If you watch the full footage the under age republican protester, has his face blocked when being arrested at the start of the clip. However if you watch on, he is clearly identifiable later in the coverage.

  • Mark McGregor

    See ^

    Loyalists will trawl coverage for images including those of juveniles, note and draw attention to them. For what purpose?

    A clearer example of why even the Policing Board stand against publication of images of young people would be hard to find.

  • ranger1640

    See ^ a clear demonstration of republicans going out of their way to get offended, on a post they brought to the site. I suspect a large dollop of MOPE’ry.

    Firstly Mark, I did not trawl (your emphasis) the coverage to the site you posted a link to (“UTV covered this story (TV coverage available via link)”), to spot under age republican protesters.

    I did what you intended, I watched the footage you linked!!!

    Therefore it begs the question, if you are as you claim to be so concerned about this under age republican protesters identity. Why did you post the link??? And you should have watched the coverage better and noted that the under age republican protester could be identified, and not posted the link!!!

    Poor observance on your part Mark, does not mean trawling on my part!!!

  • Your correct “Those children were not subject to legal proceedings”

    But Slugger was their Judge and Jury

    See if any Prod decides to speak out on here they’re classed a Troll

    By the way your Policing Board info is out of date – ask the Human rights committeee oops sorry its not for public reading yet

  • ranger1640

    JJ, not sure the law on this but, did the photographer or his sidekick, inform the girls that their photos would be put on a public forum for others to observe and make comment? If the girls were below the age of legal consent was parental consent requested.

    In fact have they put these two children in danger, as we know republicans will trawl coverage for images including those of juveniles, note and draw attention to them. For what purpose?

  • Maradona

    I’m reliably informed that the Irish News assumed the boy was over 18 and that’s why they didn’t blur out his face.
    Forget the conspiracy theories lads, it’s a simple mistake. They happen, believe it or not.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “Children do stupid things due to lack of maturity, and they invariably always grow out of it. ”

    If only…

  • vanhelsing

    Legally Mark is right – the Irish News should have protected the identity of underage protesters. I would assume they thought they were over 18.

    Morally they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

    I happen to agree with BelfastJJ and think that MPs photo of the young girls shouldn’t have been published and I said so at the time. Mark makes the legal case – I would have actually thought that the girls would have been in more assumed danger than the RNU boy having had their picture taken and published.

    BTW if ardoinrepublican can engage in whataboutery within 10 posts and not get scolded it’s fair enough for BelfastJJ to raise the issue of the girls [which has appeared several times since the photo was taken last year].

  • Jimmy Sands (profile) says:
    16 August 2011 at 3:36 am : If only.
    Jimmy, I can only assume that you are much younger than me. Every generation (myself included who was useless because of having long hair) do turn out all right and go on to run the country, economy, politics etc.

  • Thanks VH

    Its the double standards on here that amazes me – by the way Frank oops sorry Mark how was your wee extended break from Slugger