In the election for two seats representing the Republic of Ireland on the National Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) I am seeking a fresh mandate for a new term, beginning in April.
VOTE FISHER #1.
By now you should have received a ballot paper. Please make sure you fill it in, if you have not already done so, and return it in the reply paid envelope to the election scrutineers in London. Thank you for your support if you have voted.
This is a PR-type election with voters asked to mark 1,2,3,4 in order of their choice. The other three candidates are all job shares (six other union activists). You should have received a statement from all the candidates along with the ballot paper, as well as an email sent out by the NUJ just before Christmas.
For the record, I enclose a copy of my summary of activities as an NEC representative that will be punished in the NUJ annual report at the Delegate Meeting in Southport in April.
- During my term on the NEC I also served on the Irish Executive Council representing the regional newspapers sector 2018-19. In April 2018 when my two-year term on the NEC began, the NUJ called on the Minister for Communications for clarification following a report that Denis O’Brien and Independent News & Media (INM) were given advance knowledge of the minister’s views on INM’s plan to buy Celtic Media Plc. The NUJ objected to the proposed acquisition and made a submission to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and the Oireachtas hearing on this issue.
- As a local journalist I continued to represent my colleagues on chapel matters. In December 2018 I signed the campaign “Reverse journalist cuts at Newsquest” in solidarity with members at local newspapers in Cumbria.
- Following the tragic killing of freelance journalist, Lyra McKee, in April 2019 I attended a commemoration in Derry organised by the local branch and a vigil in Dungannon. At her funeral I helped organise an NUJ guard of honour at the end of the service.
- A few weeks later, I took part in the annual Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ May Day parade in Belfast. This year I acted as a steward. It was a very poignant occasion as the NUJ was given pride of position at the head of the parade carrying pictures in tribute to Lyra, who was shot dead in Derry by a dissident republican group during rioting. Irish Secretary, Séamus Dooley, addressed the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) rally. He reaffirmed the union’s call for justice in the cases of Lyra and of another Belfast NUJ member, Martin O’Hagan, shot dead in 2001.
- The previous day, UN World Press Freedom Day, Belfast and District Branch organised an important conference in conjunction with the United Nations Association (Northern Ireland) on safety for journalists, attended by Jim Boumelha of the International Federation of Journalists. Producer and director, Trevor Birney, addressed the conference and the NUJ assured him and his colleague Barry McCaffrey of support over the way the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had seized their material, including personal possessions, in connection with their controversial documentary No Stone Unturned.
- As a member of the NEC Finance Committee I supported the legal officer’s work to ensure that appropriate financial support was approved for legal challenges that resulted in the PSNI being instructed to hand back material when, along with Derbyshire police, they dropped their investigation into allegations of criminal behavior against Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.
- This was a significant vindication of the NUJ stance and also reminded us of the value of union membership. In November I joined the NUJ protest in Belfast to support both journalists when they appeared at the High Court in an attempt to finalise the deletion of computer data seized and automatically copied by the PSNI. Former Brexit Secretary, David Davis MP, was also there to support our members.
- At the IEC biennial delegate conference (BDC) in November 2017 I was pleased to see life membership awarded to a work colleague from Irish Eastern Branch. Speaking at BDC on reports that the businessman Denis O’Brien of INM was attempting to take over regional newspaper company, Celtic Media Group), I said there must be a limit to which the likes of Denis O’Brien could go. “Local newspapers are at the heart of communities, reporting sports, courts and council matters. The whole future of this coverage is at threat because of ownership structures and that is why we need changes to the current (Irish) competition legislation.”
- At the BDC in November 2019 the main issue was the state of RTÉ and the lack of government action over the licence fee. I addressed conference on this issue as well as a number of other subjects. The NUJ has launched a campaign “RTÉ: it’s yours! Save it!” which I will be supporting, along with some of my former RTÉ colleagues who received life membership awards.
Michael Fisher – NEC Republic of Ireland Seat