NUJ LIFE MEMBERS BELFAST

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 father Des is 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. He has also been awarded life membership (44 years a member), along with two of his former BBC colleagues, David Lynas and Noel McCartney. Noel who received his certificate two years ago and had served on the union’s National Executive Council, was congratulated on the achievement by Gerry Curran.

NUJLOGOA fifth life membership goes to photographer Alan Lewis, a familiar figure in Belfast media circles. He joined the NUJ 42 years ago. He received his certificate from the President of the International Federation of Journalists, Jim Boumelha, another NUJ stalwart.

GLOBAL DANGERS TO JOURNALISTS

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

MARTIN O’HAGAN

Martin O'Hagan: Photo Kevin Cooper

Martin O’Hagan: Photo Kevin Cooper

Passing through the centre of Lurgan in County Armagh last night (Tuesday) on my way back to Belfast from Clogher, I was thinking of Martin O’Hagan. The 51 year-old Sunday World reporter was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries as he made his way home from a pub in the town centre, along with his wife Marie. It happened on a Friday night, September 28th 2001. The “Red Hand Defenders” a cover name used by the UVF claimed responsibility. No-one has yet been prosecuted for the murder of Martin, the only journalist to be killed during the conflict in the North. In January this year the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions announced that there would be no prosecution in relation to the killing, a decision that was criticised by the NUJ.

IFJ Congress in session at Dublin Castle

IFJ Congress in session at Dublin Castle

Today I was in Dublin where the International Federation of Journalists is holding its 28th world congress at Dublin Castle on the theme “Leading the Global Fightback”. Kevin Cooper and myself ran an information stand at lunchtime for the delegates about journalist safety. It was the theme of a conference in Belfast organised by the Belfast and District Branch of the NUJ in September 2011, at which the anniversary of Martin O’Hagan’s death was commemorated. Copies of the report of that conference will be available at the stall at Printworks. It also coincided with another conference on the safety of media workers held in Belfast’s Linenhall Library this morning, organised by Gerry Carson, Secretary of the NUJ Belfast & District Branch.

NUJ Belfast & District Vice Chair Michael Fisher with NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet & Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley

NUJ Belfast & District Vice Chair Michael Fisher with NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet & Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley

Kevin Cooper, Belfast & District Branch with NUJ President Barry McCall

Kevin Cooper, Belfast & District Branch with NUJ President Barry McCall

This evening a simple commemoration took place.

Standing Up for Journalism:

Delegates assembled on the steps of the Printworks at 7pm following close of business for a series of symbolic events demonstrating our commitment to journalism while commemorating those who have died in the service of our profession since 27th World Congress 2010

19.10  Distribution of floral tributes

19.20 Wreath laying at Veronica Guerin monument, Dubh Linn Garden, Dublin Castle

19.30 Freedom Walk to Dublin City Hall

19.50 Arrival at Dublin City Hall

20.00 Welcome by Gerry Curran, Cathaoirleach, Irish Executive Council, NUJ

20.10- 21.30: Reception and social evening 

IFJ President Jim Boumelha

IFJ President Jim Boumelha

Time to Vote! NUJ President Barry McCall

Time to Vote! NUJ President Barry McCall