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Irish journalists threatened amid 'gang war'

Irish police warned journalists working for some of the country’s top newspapers that they were under threat from crime gangs

Published: Updated:

Irish police on Thursday warned journalists working for some of the country’s top newspapers that they were under threat from organized crime gangs following a spate of shootings.

Media group INM, which includes titles the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent -- the country’s biggest selling newspaper -- said police had put staff on official alert.

“This is an outrageous threat to the freedom of the press in Ireland and we are taking the threats with the utmost seriousness,” said INM Chief Editor Stephen Rae.

“It is disturbing that threats of this nature have emerged as we approach the twentieth anniversary of the death of our colleague Veronica Guerin, who was murdered by criminals for exposing their activities.”

Guerin was an Irish crime reporter murdered by drug lords in 1996.

“Our media group will not be deterred from serving the public interest and highlighting the threat to society at large posed by such criminals,” added Rae.

INM said it decided to go public with the threats to expose how the criminal gangs operate.

Ireland’s prime minister Enda Kenny condemned the threats and said the journalists had the government’s “full support”.

“On behalf of the government and myself I deplore and condemn any threat made to any journalist,” Kenny said in a statement.

“Those who engaged in the recent killings on our streets will be brought to justice and no resource will be spared in doing so.”

Armed police are still manning roadblocks across the capital Dublin after two men were shot dead in the last week.

It is believed that the two murders are linked to an ongoing feud between two rival gangs.

David Byrne, 33, was assassinated at the Regency Hotel in the north of the city on Friday, and 59-year-old Eddie Hutch was attacked and killed in his home near Dublin Port on Monday.

Hutch was the brother of a well-known Dublin gangland criminal known as “The Monk”.

Irish newspapers have reported that the killings are part of a feud between north Dublin gangsters and an Irish criminal group based in Spain, the Kinahan gang.