Sunday World faces renewed threat

By Dominic Ponsford

The IRA may have called an end to the “armed struggle” this week but
rival Loyalist paramilitaries have renewed a campaign of intimidation
against weekly red-top the Sunday World.

Newsagents have been threatened, bundles of papers burned and vans intercepted across Northern Ireland.

The
campaign is apparently in response to the paper’s tradition of exposing
drug running and gangster-type activities among paramilitary groups.

The
last time Loyalist paramilitaries targeted the Sunday World was in
April 2003, following a series of articles exposing racketeering by
members of the paramilitary UDA and UVF.

The “boycott” was
eventually lifted after several months when management agreed that
journalists would go to a designated spokesman for a comment on stories
about the UDA.

But according to sources at the paper the new system proved unworkable.

One said: “It was like doing a story about al-Qaeda and then giving them a ring to verify it.”

They added: “The spokesmen were never there and it just didn’t work.

Anyway, they are not going to confess to us that they are dealing drugs.”

The
boycott was renewed the Sunday before last following a meeting of
members of the UDA, UVF and the Red Hand Volunteers. Masked men have
gone into shops in Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland, taken
bundles of papers and threatened to set fire to shops that sell the
Sunday World.

At least one newsagent has been threatened with
being shot. Police have escorted a number of newspaper vans after
intelligence that they were due to be intercepted by paramilitaries.

In
October 2001, reporter Martin O’Hagan (pictured) was shot dead by a
group of gunmen believed to be from the Loyalist Volunteer Force. He
had written numerous exposes about paramilitary gangsters.

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