The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described a statement from Saoradh criticising the presence of the media at PSNI raids on homes of their activists as “menacing and arrogant.”

Last Thursday morning (May 16), the PSNI carried out a series of raids at houses in Derry as part of the investigation into the ‘New IRA’ murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Creggan on April 18.

No arrests were made during the raids but police confirmed that they seized a number of items for examination.

In a statement released after the raids the republican party accused an “overzealous media” of ‘colluding with British Crown Forces’ after the presence of a camera crew in the vicinity of the police raids.

Saoradh also released images of the cameraman and a woman wearing clothing bearing the word ‘press.’ The group also called on the NUJ to investigate and “expel” any of their members ‘engaged in the attacks’ on their activist’s homes.

The Saoradh statement said: “Those families affected by this mornings media assisted raids have a right to privacy as a human right. The media are quick to attack Republicans, they now have to take a serious look at this morning’s incident and provide these families with answers,” the statement continued.

The republican group also contended that the ‘invasion’ of republicans’ homes in Derry by “armed members of the British Crown Forces” has become the “norm” and a “almost daily feature of life".

“The difference this time was one of the armoured land rovers in the Crown Force convoy carried a film crew in civilian clothing and body armour with Press markings.

“The crew took part in the home invasions and where clearly complicit in the attacks on Republican families.”

However a statement issued by the NUJ on the incident said: “This is a clear attempt to intimidate journalists covering the investigation into Lyra’s murder. The NUJ has confidence in the ability of our members to cover this story in a professional manner.”

The republican group also contended that the ‘invasion’ of republicans homes in Derry by “armed members of the British Crown Forces” has become the “norm” and a “almost daily feature of life.”

The statement added: “The difference this time was one of the armoured land rovers in the Crown Force convoy carried a film crew in civilian clothing and body armour with Press markings.

“The crew took part in the home invasions and where clearly complicit in the attacks on Republican families.”

“Saoradh now ask were these individuals members of the ‘Press’? If so, which organisation where they working for?  What is the footage from this invasion to be used for? Where will the recordings be stored? Who has access to the footage? Who informed them of the raids? And what, if any, briefing were they given?

“Given the history of collusion between British Crown Forces and shadowy loyalist death squads, it is imperative that these questions are answered.”

Saoradh also queried the impartiality of the press by saying: “This behaviour, if by a media organisation or a Crown Force unit disguised as the media, calls into question the supposed impartiality and objectivity of the media, it may in future, given the environment endanger members of the press who do go about their profession in an impartial and objective manner.

Those who work within the media are required to be neutral and to give an unbiased view point.

“However, in recent weeks that has been non-existent particularly when it comes to Republicans. Is the media now letting itself be used by Crown Forces?”

In response to this the NUJ added: “The concern expressed for human rights and for the safety and welfare of working journalists is hypocritical in the context of the murder of our member Lyra McKee. So too is the demand for an NUJ investigation into the presence of media representatives  in the area during the raid.

“We understand that in the statement issued to the media Saoradh provided pictures of the media crew, clearly intended to send a message.

Our message to Saoradh is clear and unambiguous. NUJ members will continue to do their work in a professional manner and will not accept either threats or lectures on standards from an organisation which responded in such a callous  fashion to Lyra’s murder.

“The best way we can honour the memory of Lyra McKee is to continue her fearless work in exposing social justice and inequalities.”

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