The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has “strongly condemned” social media abuse directed at Irish Times journalists, describing it as “despicable”.
On Saturday, The Irish Times published an article detailing an alleged attack on a migrant camp in Ashtown, North Dublin, by a number of men with dogs, sticks and a baseball bat.
The Irish Times Social Affairs Correspondent Kitty Holland and photographer Dara Mac Dónaill had just left the camp having interviewed the residents – most of them EU nationals – about the camp and homelessness, and returned on seeing the group of men arrive.
Since publication of the story, the two journalists have been the target of abuse on social media.
Séamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the NUJ, said in a statement the attempts to smear a reporter and photographer are “despicable”.
“The abuse of Ms Holland, in particular, is vile and beneath contempt. There have been suggestions that the story was fabricated. Kitty and Dara are journalists of the highest integrity who behaved with utmost professionalism. This was a despicable incident, and their presence thankfully prevented a more serious incident,” he said.
Mr Dooley said this is “part of a pattern of behaviour on Twitter and other social media platforms”.
“We encourage all members to report abuse to the social media platform providers, to their employer and where appropriate to the gardaí,” he said
“Journalists will not be prevented from covering the activities of far-right groups by attacks on social media. Our members have also been abused in public and we are working with media organisations and An Garda Síochána to put in place measures to protect media workers and to ensure that all attacks are reported.”
He added: “The sharp increase in social media attacks on female journalists is especially worrying and gives rise to grave concern.”
Éanna Ó Caollaí and Conn Ó Midheach, on behalf of The Irish Times chapel, or office branch, expressed solidarity with their colleagues.
They said: “We join in condemning these attacks. Irish Times journalists will not tolerate intimidation from any quarter. It is not acceptable to abuse workers for doing their job. Attacks on women journalists are all too prevalent and this behaviour cannot be tolerated.”