The Limerick Leader is under police surveillance after man involved in a violent feud in the town threatened to burn down its offices.
The local Gardai said they were taking the threat very seriously”.
The paper received the call after it ran a story about a peace mass held in a local church. The caller was annoyed that Hughie Ryan, brother of local feud murder victims Eddie and John, had called for peace. The paper quoted Ryan as saying of the ceremony: “Hopefully this will bring peace once and for all.”
The caller said he wanted “no peace” and no “end to this feud”.
He then said: “Print that in your paper or the Leader will be torched.”
Editor Brendan Halligan said: “One of our prominent interests is to protect staff, so they will not be talking to the media on this issue. We now have to be very vigilant. We have 24-hour private security.
The Gardai are taking this very seriously. They don’t usually say that kind of thing. If they are taking this seriously then we have to.”
As with coverage of court cases, journalists will no longer have picture bylines and bylines will dropped from stories about the feud.
However, Halligan said that while the safety of the staff was of paramount importance, his journalists would continue to cover the conflict.
“We have to protect our staff, but we have got a job to do and we’ll do it in the same way we have done until now. We won’t change that one iota.”
The mayor of Limerick, Dick Sadlier, a former newspaper managing director, told the paper: “I am appalled that a threat of this nature could be made against the local press. I would urge all Limerick people to stand four square behind the local press and local journalists.”
He added: “I applaud the Limerick Leader and staff members in facing down this cowardly threat and assure them of my total support in so doing. I’m certain that in the long run and in this instance, the pen will eventually prove mightier than the gun, the sword and the bomb.”
By Mary Stevens