NUJ LIFE MEMBERS

VOTE FISHER #1. I received my NUJ Life Membership in Belfast in 2014. I am standing for election to the National Executive Council to represent the Republic of Ireland. So if you have not yet voted, please do so now. Use the reply paid envelope that came with the ballot paper. Thank you if you have already voted. If you did not receive a ballot paper please contact elections@nuj.org.uk. If the union does not have the correct up-to-date address for you then it will have been sent to an old address and you will need to inform Headland House so that they can update their records.     VOTE FISHER #1.

Michael Fisher presented with NUJ life membership by Seamus Dooley  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

Michael Fisher presented with NUJ life membership by Seamus Dooley Photo: © Kevin Cooper

At a meeting organised by the Belfast and District Branch of the National Union of Journalists a number of reporters and a photographer were awarded life membership of the union, having belonged to the NUJ for over forty years. I was presented with my certificate by the Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley and somehow I managed to receive two of them! Seamus pointed out that my (late) father Des was also a long-time NUJ member (he helped to start the Irish South Eastern Branch when he started work in Carlow) as is my sister Carolyn who also worked in RTÉ.

Michael Fisher presented with 1913 lockout centenary coin by Gerry Curran  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

Michael Fisher presented with 1913 lockout centenary coin by Gerry Curran Photo: © Kevin Cooper

The Cathaoirleach of the Irish Executive Council Gerry Curran presented me with a limited edition coin, issued last year to mark the centenary of the 1913 lockout in Dublin, which I was very proud to receive in recognition of my contribution to the NUJ in Ireland and Britain. I joined the union in July 1974, becoming a member of the London Radio Branch when I worked in the BBC Radio Newsroom at Broadcasting House as a News Trainee. I later joined the Birmingham Branch when I moved to the West Midlands in 1975. I then joined Dublin Broadcasting Branch on taking up a position with RTÉ News in Dublin in January 1979. I transferred to Belfast in August 1984, becoming a member of Northern Ireland Broadcasting Branch, subsequently amalgamated with Belfast and District.

NUJ life member Michael Fisher with former RTÉ News cameraman Bryan Drysdale  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

NUJ life member Michael Fisher with former RTÉ News cameraman Bryan Drysdale Photo: © Kevin Cooper

I remember the Broadcasting Branch Treasurer at the time was Austin Hunter of BBC Northern Ireland (now deceased). He was awarded life membership (44 years a member), along with two of his former BBC colleagues, David Lynas and Noel McCartney. Noel who had served on the union’s National Executive Council, was congratulated on the achievement by Gerry Curran.

NUJLOGOA fifth life membership went to photographer Alan Lewis, a familiar figure in Belfast media circles. He joined the NUJ over 40 years ago. He received his certificate from the President of the International Federation of Journalists, Jim Boumelha, another NUJ stalwart.

 

GLOBAL DANGERS TO JOURNALISTS

A report on a conference held by the NUJ in Belfast in 2014.

NUJ Belfast & District Branch Chair Bob Miller opens the seminar  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ Belfast & District Branch Chair Bob Miller opens the seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ Belfast and District Branch held a seminar at the Linenhall Library Belfast on global dangers to journalists. The President of the International Federation of Journalists Jim Boumelha was among the speakers. Local photographer and NUJ member of honour Kevin Cooper spoke about dangers for journalists in Northern Ireland. Another branch member photographer Sarah Hunter spoke about her experiences in Somalia and introduced a Somali journalist and asylum seeker. Ciaran Ó Maolain also addressed the gathering. Afterwards I introduced a round table discussion with the speakers about human rights issues of concern to journalists.

NUJ Photographer Kevin Cooper addresses seminar  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ Photographer Kevin Cooper addresses seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

Stressing the importance of the union’s Code of Conduct Kevin Cooper said his guidelines were to be true to yourself and be prepared to stand up on issues of concern. He said journalists had a right to do their work unhindered. Despite the peace process, some journalists in Northern Ireland were working under threat, he said.

Photographer Sarah Hunter, another member of the Belfast and District Branch, spoke about the dangers to journalists in Somalia, where she has done work for various NGOs.

Photographer Sarah Hunter addresses seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

Photographer Sarah Hunter addresses seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

Ciaran Ó Maolain speaking at the NUJ seminar  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Ciaran Ó Maolain speaking at the NUJ seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

IFJ President Jim Boumelha Photo: © Michael Fisher

IFJ President Jim Boumelha Photo: © Michael Fisher

VOTE FISHER #1 in the elections for the NUJ National Executive for the seats representing the Republic of Ireland.

NUJ IRELAND

My report for this website on proceedings at the Biennial Delegate Meeting of the Irish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists held at Croke Park in Dublin in 2013. Cathaoirleach at the time was Gerry Curran who along with Fran McNulty of RTÉ News is one of the (jobshare) candidates in the election for two representatives of the Republic of Ireland on the new NEC starting in April.

VOTE FISHER #1

I am also a candidate along with Dara Bradley and Damien Tiernan (jobshare) and Emma O’Kelly and Saoirse McGarrigle (also jobshare). Please return your ballot paper now if you have not already done so. There is no need for a stamp: the envelope is freepost. Thanks to those who have already voted.

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran addresses the BDC  Photo: © Michael Fisher

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran addresses the BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

Conferences for the NUJ in Ireland are held every two years. The wider union is also moving to a two-year cycle for the Delegate Meeting (DM), which had already been shifted to an eighteen months interval in order to save money. The next DM will be held in Eastbourne in April 2014.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet with ICTU President John Douglas and Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet with ICTU President John Douglas and Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley Photo: © Michael Fisher

On Saturday, ICTU President John Douglas addressed the NUJ in Ireland biennial delegate conference, which was held once again in the Cusack stand conference centre at the GAA headquarters at Croke Park. Another meeting was being held on the same level in a different section further along the corridor and above the GAA Museum on the ground floor.

Michael Cusack statue & stand, Croke Park  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Michael Cusack statue & stand, Croke Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

From our vantage point we could see that repair work was continuing on the pitch to protect it during the winter. In the Hogan stand, groups were being taken on tours of the impressive stadium.

Croke Park pitch  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Croke Park pitch Photo: © Michael Fisher

The NUJ website contains some details of the proceedings. Good to see that the government has withdrawn amendments relating to the Freedom of Information legislation that would have introduced new charges.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet addressing the BDC  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet addressing the BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

The union called for immediate publication of Irish government proposals for legislation guaranteeing workers the right to collective representation and bargaining. The NUJ also called for the appointment of a Minister for labour affairs of cabinet rank in order to give greater priority to the rights of workers.

In his report to the conference, Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said the official commemoration of the 1913 Lock Out will be remembered as “a hypocritical charade”, if the government commitment to publish legislation on collective bargaining is not honoured by the end of this year. He said the inadequate protection for workers and the absence of the legal right to collective representation is a scandal which cannot be ignored. The NUJ and SIPTU, through the ICTU, are preparing a complaint to the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation on the denial of the right to representation.

ICTU President Gerry Douglas addresses NUJ BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

ICTU President John Douglas addresses NUJ BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

The report highlights the failure of successive governments to honour commitments to bring about legislative change to protect freelance workers. In the report, Séamus Dooley says:

“We consider the failure to implement the solemn commitments regarding the right of freelance workers to collective representation through amendment of Competition Law as a betrayal. It is ironic that the state should celebrate the contribution of Larkin, who organised self-employed workers, but force unions to seek relief through the ILO after more than a decade of broken promises,”

The last national agreement, Towards 2016, contains a specific commitment to reform of competition law which still has not been honoured. The union is also calling for the establishment of a minister for labour affairs of cabinet rank as a means of ensuring that employment rights are given greater priority, a call first made by the NUJ in 2007.

The NUJ conference also passed two motions dealing with the ‘JobBridge’ programme. In his report, Séamus Dooley called on the government to abandon the scheme. He said there was clear evidence that JobBridge was being used by a range of media organisations as a source of free labour.

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran received a gift of a framed cartoon. Pictured with Michelle Stanistreet  Photo: © Michael Fisher

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran received a gift of a framed cartoon. Pictured with NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet                                        Photo: © Michael Fisher

VOTE FISHER #1      NEC 2020

 

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