Photographer in death threat

North Belfast News: threatened by the UDA

A photographer has received a death threat after taking pictures of a suspected gangster and paramilitary leader.

It is the second time this year that a member of staff at small Belfast weekly the North Belfast News (part of the Andersonstown News Group) has been threatened by banned Loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association.

In March, editor Sean Mag Uidhir received death threats from the UDA after publishing stories linking the group to protection rackets. The latest threat has come about after morning paper the Irish News took the unusual step of naming a man it believed to be the new commander of the UDA in North Belfast.

The Nationalist North Belfast News followed the story up by publishing a photograph of the man in its Friday edition.

The following day officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland visited the the paper’s offices.

They said that, according to intelligence, the photographer in question would be shot by the UDA if they spotted him in a Loyalist area of Belfast.

Andersonstown News Group managing director Mártín “‘Muilleoir said: “These guys are into extortion and drug dealing. We’ve been covering that and they don’t like it.

“We are a local community newspaper – we are not The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, but we have to serve our readers and expose some of the stuff that’s going on. But we don’t want to be on the front line in the battle against these people.

“We’ve done a series of stories about how they are frightening businesses to get protection money – we have to run these stories otherwise we might as well give the paper over to them and let them do what they want with it.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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