REPRESENTING THE NUJ

_20200101_1849408707635111008855041.jpgMembers of the National Union of Journalists in Ireland (Republic of) are voting in an election to select two members to represent them on the union’s National Executive Council for the next two years, starting in April.

NUJ headquarters sent out an email on 19th December on behalf of the seven people, all union activists, putting themselves forward in the ballot:

Dara Bradley & Damien Tiernan (Job-share); Gerry Curran & Fran McNulty (Job-share); Michael Fisher, and Emma O Kelly & Saoirse McGarrigle (Job-Share). The views expressed in the campaign material are those of the candidates and not necessarily those of the Union and as such, the National Union of Journalists does not accept liability.

MICHAEL FISHER

 VOTE FISHER #1

There are a number of reasons I am seeking your no.1 vote and to represent you for another term on the National Executive Council (NEC). 

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING

First, the future of public service broadcasting. At our recent Biennial Delegate Conference in Dublin, a campaign was launched, “It’s your RTÉ: Save it! Sabháil RTÉ: Is leatsa é!” I was pleased to support the campaign along with some of my former RTÉ colleagues who were being awarded NUJ life membership. I was among the speakers at Conference criticising successive governments that have refused to provide adequate funding for RTÉ by reforming the licence fee. RTÉ management has failed to present a realistic, strategic plan for the organisation. . 

FUTURE OF THE UNION

There is an urgent need to examine closely the union’s finances. The NEC Finance Committee of which I am a member has considered proposals, which I have commented on at meetings and supported. If the union is to remain an independent voice for journalism rather than be merged with a larger union, members must now take urgent action and decide on an increase in union subscriptions. 

REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS 

As a journalist with a Co. Monaghan paper, I continue to represent my colleagues at chapel level. I served on the Irish Executive Council (IEC) representing regional newspapers 2017-19. The union objected to the proposed acquisition of Celtic Media by Independent News and Media. I made a submission to the Broadcasting Authority, stressing the importance of diversity of ownership. At the IEC biennial delegate conference (BDC) in November 2017 I spoke on reports that the businessman Denis O’Brien of Independent News and Media (INM) was attempting to take over Celtic Media Group (regional newspaper company). 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.”

MEDIA FREEDOM 

Following the killing of Lyra McKee I attended vigils in Derry and Dungannon and helped organise an NUJ tribute at her funeral in Belfast. 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 during rioting. 

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, which I spoke at. 

As a member of the NEC Finance Committee I commended the legal officer’s work to support investigative journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney in the aftermath of police raids on their homes and office arising from their documentary “No Stone Unturned”. The Belfast High Court decision quashing warrants for their arrest was a significant vindication of the NUJ Code of Conduct. They continue to need our support. 

UNION OFFICES 

I am Chair of Irish Eastern Branch and currently represent the NEC on the Irish Executive Council, of which I am a former Cathaoirleach. Since joining the London Radio Branch in 1974, I have held chapel and branch offices in Birmingham, Dublin, Belfast, Monaghan and am now a life member. 

I attended and participated in Delegate Meetings on various occasions since Glasgow in 1989. Other offices held include Chair of the IEC Northern Ireland sub committee 2009-2014 and NI representative on the Council. I have served on the Broadcasting Industrial Council, Ethics Council, and was a member of the Appeals Tribunal 2016-18. 

VOTE FISHER #1 

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NUJ ELECTION

Belfast May Day Parade Pic. © Kevin Cooper

VOTE FISHER #1  To all NUJ colleagues in the Republic of Ireland. I am seeking your number 1 vote in order to represent you for another term on the National Executive Council (NEC). You might be among this who has received a letter from me in the post reminding you to VOTE NOW!

For those of you who didn’t get a letter (the numbers were restricted to remain withing the spending guidelines laid down by the union), “I am asking you to give me your first preference for the following reasons:

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING                                                                                 First, the future of public service broadcasting. At our recent Biennial Delegate Conference in Dublin, a campaign was launched, “It’s your RTÉ: Save it! Sabháil RTÉ: Is leatsa é!” I was pleased to support the campaign along with some of my former RTÉ colleagues who were being awarded NUJ life membership. I was among the speakers at Conference criticising successive governments that have refused to provide adequate funding for RTÉ by reforming the licence fee. RTÉ management has failed to present a realistic, strategic plan for the organisation.

FUTURE OF THE UNION                                                                                                 There is an urgent need to examine closely the union’s finances. The NEC Finance Committee of which I am a member has considered proposals, which I have commented on at meetings and supported. If the union is to remain an independent voice for journalism rather than be merged with a larger union, members must now take urgent action and decide on an increase in union subscriptions.                                                                            REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS

I served on the Irish Executive Council (IEC) representing regional newspapers 2017-19. The union objected to the proposed acquisition of Celtic Media by Independent News and Media.  I made a submission to the Broadcasting Authority, stressing the importance of diversity of ownership. At the IEC biennial delegate conference (BDC) in November 2017, I spoke on reports that the businessman Denis O’Brien of Independent News and Media (INM) was attempting to take over Celtic Media Group (regional newspaper company). 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.” As a journalist with a Co. Monaghan paper, I continue to represent my colleagues at chapel level.

MEDIA FREEDOM                                                                                                           Following the killing of Lyra McKee I attended vigils in Derry and Dungannon and helped organise an NUJ tribute at her funeral in Belfast. 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. 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, which I spoke at. On the NEC Finance Committee, I commended the legal officer’s work to support investigative journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney in the aftermath of police raids on their homes and office arising from their documentary “No Stone Unturned”. The Belfast High Court decision quashing warrants for their arrest was a significant vindication of the NUJ Code of Conduct. Trevor and Barry continue to need our support.        

UNION OFFICES                                                                                                              I am Chair of Irish Eastern Branch and currently represent the NEC on the Irish Executive Council, of which I am a former Cathaoirleach. Since joining the London Radio Branch in 1974, I have held chapel and branch offices in Birmingham, Dublin, Belfast and now Monaghan. I am a life member. I attended and participated in Delegate Meetings on various occasions since Glasgow in 1989. Other offices held include Chair of the IEC Northern Ireland sub committee 2009-2014 and NI representative on the Council. I have served on the Broadcasting Industrial Council, Ethics Council, and was a member of the Appeals Tribunal. 

VOTE  FISHER  #1

Michael Fisher, Tydavnet, Co. Monaghan  

Letter to NUJ members

POST YOUR VOTE NOW if you have not already done so, using the free reply paid envelope that you should have received before Christmas. If you believe you are entitled to a vote but did not receive the form, please contact elections@nuj.org.uk or telephone the office in London on: +442078433700.

Thank you if you have already voted.

NEC REPORT

MFUNDAY

Michael Fisher of the NUJ (NEC member for Republic of Ireland) addressing a meeting in Belfast to mark United Nations World Press Freedom Day organised jointly with the UN Association of Northern Ireland entitled “The Media and Democracy – why journalism matters.”                     Photo © Kevin Cooper

Republic of Ireland – 2 Seats

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.

    Picket

    Michael Fisher (second right) outside the High Court in Belfast with NUJ members from Belfast Branch and Derry and District Branch supporting Trevor McBirney and Barry McCaffrey.

  • 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

 

 

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

May Day Parade Belfast

It’s time for New Year resolutions. In wishing everyone a Happy New Year, I want to ask NUJ members in particular to make one resolution that can make a difference. Decide to take a more active part in union affairs.

You can start the process now by ensuring that you vote in the elections for the National Executive Council and various other bodies that will begin their new mandate after the Delegate Meeting in Southport in April.

One contest that I am personally concerned with is the contest for two seats on the NEC representing members in the Republic of Ireland. It is a role I have carried out alongside Gerry Curran since 2018.

London Demonstration

Last time there was no contest. Now there are four candidates (or technically seven as three are standing as job shares) for the two posts.

I am seeking your #1 vote and to those who have already voted, my thanks. For all the others out there please make it your New Year resolution to take part in this important NUJ ballot. Along with the ballot paper(s) there is a leaflet with statements from each of the candidates.

You should have received the ballot paper before Christmas along with a reply paid envelope to return the form. Any paid up member in the Republic who did not receive a ballot paper in the post should contact: elections@nuj.org.uk.

If you have not already made your selection, now is the time to vote by marking your choices 1,2,3,4 in the relevant boxes. Make sure you post the envelopes as soon as possible to arrive in good time in London.

Belfast May Day Parade

Thanks once again for your support over the past two years and more in my various NUJ capacities.

MICHAEL FISHER January 1st 2020

BURIAL AT WYTSCHAETE

This article is about the burial today of the remains of 13 British and Commonwealth soldiers from the First World War whose remains were found in Flanders’ fields at Wytschaete near Ieper. We will remember them.

The article is published in The Guardian newspaper.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/10/first-world-wars-pompeii-burial-for-british-soldiers-found-in-flemish-field

WWII TEXEL MEMORIAL

Texel memorial for USAF B-17 crew

I cycled past this stone today on the Dutch island of Texel. I discovered that it was a memorial in memory of a group of US Air Force men who were killed when their B-17 bomber crashed on April 1945. A plaque beside the stone records the names of the eight crew members who were killed. Two others survived.

The stone is located beside a cycle path (6) at Watermolenweg, Den Hoorn, en route to the ferry port for Den Helder at ‘t Horntje.

Information via website tracesofwar.com F. Wibbeke.

ERIC POOLE: SHOT AT POPERINGE JAIL

Family photo of Eric Poole (centre)

Eric Poole, aged 31. Second Lieutenant in the 11th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Admitted to hospital with shell shock in July 1916 (around the time of the Battle of the Somme). Despite his panic attacks he is sent back to the Front.

On 5th October 1916 Poole’s platoon arrives at the Front Line near Flers in France. However the 2nd Lt has disappeared. Poole is arrested days later and sentenced to death for desertion. He is the first officer in the British Army to be actually executed.

Cell in Poperinge jail with graffiti by soldiers

Cell in Poperinge jail with graffiti by soldiers

The execution took place on December 10th 1916 at 7.25am at Poperinge jail. Shot at Dawn.

Looking out into the courtyard from the prison cell

SHOT AT DAWN

Memorial at Poperinge for soldiers sentenced to death

It was a poignant moment on the fifth and final day of our tour of Flanders when we went to Poperinge a few miles from Ieper. In a courtyard there is a metal post that now serves as a memorial to soldiers killed there for breaking military law.

Several years ago a former President of the National Union of Journalists George McIntyre led a campaign to clear the names of WWI British soldiers court martialled e.g. for desertion and shot at dawn by a firing squad.

Information board

TOC-H SERVICE

During our visit to the chapel or Upper Room in TOC-H Poperinge, we paused for a brief prayer service. It was led by one of our visiting group, Church of Ireland Canon Andrea Wills from Foxford, Co. Mayo.This was very appropriate as the chapel was created by the founder of Talbot House, Reverend Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton, a Church of England minister from England.Canon Wills led us in prayers including the Lord’s Prayer, to remember all those soldiers who gave their lives in World War One, some of them Irishmen serving in the British Army.