NUJ VOTING REMINDER

VOTE FISHER #1…FISHER #1…FISHER #1

May Day Parade in Belfast

No, it’s not about the general election! Nor is it an encouragement to vote repeatedly! When it comes to the election of two representatives from the Republic of Ireland on the National Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists, it’s very much one fully paid-up member, one vote!

NUJ group in Belfast May Day Parade

This is a final reminder to everyone who has not completed their ballot paper, posted out before Christmas, to do so now. Vote 1,2,3,4 in order of choice. Place the completed form in the pre-paid envelope that was provided and send it in the post NOW to the electoral company in London that is running the ballot on behalf of the NUJ. The latest posting date in order to ensure your vote is included is effectively tomorrow, as the envelopes sent by air mail must arrive by midday on Wednesday 29th January. The count will then take place.

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.

Many thanks to all those who have participated already, especially if you gave me a number one (or two) vote. For the record, there are four candidates (seven people) seeking election to the to seats. The others are Dara Bradley and Damien Tiernan (jobshare), Gerry Curran and Fran McNulty (jobshare), Emma O’Kelly and Saoirse McGarrigle (also jobshare).

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

I am seeking your first preference vote for the following reasons:

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.   

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING                                                                                 The future of public service broadcasting is an important issue. 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.   

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

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM

Extracts from an Irish Times article from May 4th 1998 written by Michael Foley.


“The leaders of Nigeria, Burma, Belarus, Cuba, and Indonesia are among the world’s “10 Enemies of the Press” named by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on World Press Freedom Day . Nigeria’s military ruler, Gen Sani Abacha, was named as the worst enemy of the press. Nigeria now holds more journalists in prison than any other African nation.

In Dublin, the Catholic Church’s development agency, Trocaire, marked World Press Freedom Day by calling on the Government to push at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting for an oil embargo on Nigeria to protest at its military regime’s violations of press freedom.

The National Union of Journalists in Ireland called for an end of the widespread practice of local authorities conducting business in private, or “in committee”.

Local authorities and other bodies continue to hold meetings in private to discuss issues of major public interest, including planning, housing and the development of amenities, said the chairman of the NUJ’s Irish executive, Michael Fisher. He called for the end of Ireland’s culture of secrecy, the repeal of the Official Secrets Act and reform of Ireland’s “draconian” libel laws.

National Newspapers of Ireland, the lobby group for the main newspaper titles, said in a statement figures from the World Association of Newspapers show that 138 journalists are being held in prison in 24 countries.”

REMINDER TO VOTE

A REMINDER TO VOTE IN THE NUJ COUNCIL ELECTIONS

May Day Parade Belfast Pic. © Kevin Cooper

To NUJ members living in the Republic of Ireland: you should have received an email reminder today from headquarters to use your vote in the NUJ National Executive Council election and where relevant, for the following Councils:

  • NEC – Republic of Ireland ** TWO SEATS
  • NEC – Black Members’ seat
  • NEC – New Media seat
  • NEC – Photographers’ seat
  • Ethics Council – Freelance seat

The closing deadline for the election is at midday on Wednesday 29th January 2020, so please return your ballot paper now to ensure it reaches London by this date. A reply-paid envelope was enclosed with the voting paper and information about each of the four (myself and three job share) candidates. The others are Dara Bradley and Damien Tiernan; Emma O’Kelly and Saoirse McGonagle; and Gerry Curran and Fran McNulty.

Thank you for your support. It’s your union. Participation is vital and voting in an election is one way you can play your part, as it is on the wider stage with a general election contest underway.

VOTE FISHER #1 and then 2, 3, 4 in order of preference. Thank you to all those who have already voted.

If you have not received your ballot paper, please contact elections@nuj.org.uk who will issue a replacement straight away. A few people have already done so. If your address held on file by the Membership Department is out of date eg because you have moved, you must inform them of your new address.

NUJ MEMBERS IN IRELAND

VOTE FISHER #1

JoeCostello0615

Protesting in support of Dunnes Stores workers at the company’s HQ in Dublin June 2015: Joe Costello former Labour TD and Michael Fisher

NUJ MEMBERS: Have you voted yet in the election for two representatives from the Republic of Ireland to serve on the National Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists? If you live in the constituency (the 26 Counties) then you are entitled to a vote. The ballot papers were sent out from England before Christmas and contain a pamphlet with statements from all the candidates and a reply paid envelope for the ballot paper. So please VOTE NOW if you have not already done so.

Talking to one of the other candidates at today’s meeting of NUJ representatives in Dublin, and from speaking to a colleague, it appears that some members eligible to vote did not receive a ballot paper.

Please contact: elections@nuj.org.uk or telephone the office in London on: +442078433700 if you did not receive a ballot paper and arrangements will be made to send out a new one. What appears to have happened is that the central database contains addresses of members that are out of date. People might have moved on and not told the union about their new address. If you are in that situation please advise the NUJ membership department in London.

Thank you to those who have already voted in this election.

There are four candidates, myself and three others who are all contesting the election as job shares. Vote 1,2,3,4 in order of preference. Dara Bradley & Damien Tiernan (Job-share); Gerry Curran & Fran McNulty (Job-share); Michael Fisher, and Emma O Kelly & Saoirse McGarrigle (Job-Share)

NUJ BLAST FROM THE PAST

VOTE FISHER #1 in the election for the National Executive Council 2020. This is another reminder to those eligible to vote in the republic of Ireland to send in your completed ballot paper now. A reply paid envelope was enclosed with the election literature to send the form back to London.

THANK YOU if you have already voted. There is still time to vote. Four candidates including myself (three of them job shares between two people) are standing in the election.

VOTE FISHER #1

NUJ seminar on proposed local radio bill (1983)

News conference on proposed local radio Bill 1983 with Dublin Broadcasting Branch officers including (R-L) Michael Fisher, Charlie Bird, Minister for Communications Ted Nealon, Patrick Kinsella, RTÉ Deputy DG Vincent Finn and Roberta Wallace.                        Pic. RTÉ Stills Library.

This “blast from the past” from the RTÉ Stills Library shows an NUJ (National Union of Journalists) seminar on the proposed local radio bill to end RTÉ’s radio monopoly, held at the Montrose Hotel, Dublin, on 6th October 1983. At the top table are (L-R): Roberta Wallace (NUJ Branch Secretary); RTÉ Deputy Director-General Vincent Finn; RTÉ News correspondent and Chairman of the NUJ Dublin Broadcasting Branch, Patrick Kinsella; Minister for Communications Ted Nealon; RTÉ News reporter and Vice-Chairman of the NUJ’s Broadcasting Branch Charlie Bird, and RTÉ News reporter and Branch Treasurer, Michael Fisher.

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