Journalists can breathe easy now that Boris is on the case
Northern Ireland journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey caused a bit of a splash when they visited Westminster on Thursday.
The two are on police bail until March 1st arising from police investigations into information featured in their award-winning documentary No Stone Unturned, about the 1994 UVF murders of six people in a pub in Loughinisland. They have not been charged, but the police are investigating alleged breaches of the Official Secrets Act.
During their visit they highlighted the aggressive raids on their homes. Birney told MPs that even his eight-year-old daughter’s pink phone and her homework, on a memory stick, had been confiscated and remains in custody.
The NUJ group, led by former union president Tim Dawson, got a warm reception from predictable sources, including Tony Lloyd, Labour spokesman on Northern Ireland and Chris Stephens of the SNP. Former deputy PM John Prescott was especially supportive.
Afterwards, there was a special showing of the film at the NUJ’s head office in King’s Cross. Among the attendance was the Sinn Féin MP for South Down, Chris Hazzard, along with academic and journalist Roy Greenslade, historian Dr Maurice Walsh, late of this parish, and an array of others.
Back in Westminster, with the Brexit debate raging in the Commons, there was some surprise among the visitors when Boris Johnson stopped to chat. In no time at all he was loudly expressing his shock at the treatment of the two journalists.
According to Birney, it only took the MP two minutes to become fully informed and totally outraged, “nearly as long as he took to consider the implications of Brexit”.
The journalist later tweeted a photograph of their meeting with the former London mayor and former foreign secretary with the caption: “Boris promised he’d give our case the same consideration he’d applied to Brexit and [its] impact on Ireland. We’re sorted.”