Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault.

Nuj gathering in solidarity with murdered french colleagues

THE French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault will be special guest tomorrow (Saturday) at a National Union of Journalists G'athering in Solidarity and Remembrance' with French colleagues and the people of France following the appalling murders at the 'Charlie Hebdo' magazine in Paris on Wednesday.

The gathering takes place at 11am at Dubh Linn garden, Dublin Castle. The gardens are located in the grounds of Dublin Castle and beside the Chester Beatty Library. Please use the Dame Street entrance, opposite the Olympia Theatre.

The ambassador and the cathaoirleach of the Irish Executive Council of the NUJ Mr Gerry Curran will deliver a brief address following a roll call of the victims and a minute’s silence.  Proceedings will be introduced by the Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley, beginning with a roll call of the victims and a minute’s silence and conclude with a lament played by the renowned Irish piper Néilidh Mulligan.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the event and are asked to assemble from 10.30am.

Séamus Dooley said the event  was “an opportunity for the union to offer sympathy and solidarity to the people of France and in doing so to defend the right to freedom of expression”.

Mr Dooley added: “It is fitting that the event should take place in the grounds of Dublin Castle, where there is a memorial in honour of Veronica Guerin and a garden saluting the contribution of An Garda Síochaná.  We will gather in front of the magnificent Chester Beatty library, a manifestation of all that is best in Islamic culture. There are over 6,000 individual items in the  Islamic Collections at the library,  with some items dating from the late eighth and ninth centuries.  The collection is an eloquent expression of the true nature of Islamic culture. What happened in Paris on Wednesday was the ultimate blasphemy and should not be used to justify Islamophobia, which has no place in Irish society.”

Gerry Curran, cathaoirleach of the NUJ's Irish Executive Council said of the killings: 'We went to sleep on Wednesday night with heavy hearts, knowing these killings had been an execution of workers for simply doing their jobs.  Journalists and police officers serve, in different ways, the public interest and on Wednesday both professions were attacked.

When we awoke to the morning headlines, to the extensive, honest reporting of the atrocities, and to the wit and satire of cartoonists across the global media - we knew the purveyors of terror had failed to assassinate journalism or stymie freedom of expression. For that we can be grateful and gain strength, as gatherers of news: as those who shine light onto what happens in the shadows'.

Mr Curran went on to say: 'Not to continue to report and comment with passion and energy would be a dilution of democracy and a corruption of our humanity. To live in fear gives a victory to terror, to shy away from truth telling allows liars corrupt the public sphere.  The people of France have shown us they will allow neither. We stand with them '.

Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists general secretary, and a delegation from the union will be among the leading contingent of unions taking part in silent march in Paris this Sunday.

The NUJ, together with the International Federation of Unions (IFJ) and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)  will lead members from the unions CGT, CFDT, CFTC, CFE-CGC, FSU, UNSA in a united act of solidarity against all acts of violence and intolerance and to show respect to the ten Charlie Hebdo journalists and two police officers murdered this week.

Michelle Stanistreet, said: 'We need to stand shoulder to shoulder against those who believe they can suppress the freedom of the press and free speech by violence and intimidation. The world has been deeply shocked by these killings and this march is one of many around the globe sending out a message of defiance to those who perpetrate violence against journalists.  Last year 118 journalists and media staff were killed during their duties. Already this year a Filipino journalist, Nerlita Ledesma, was gunned down on his way to work and Khalid Mohammed al Washali, a TV correspondent, killed by a roadside bomb south of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. 

The NUJ by joining this march will be celebrating the work of the journalists at Charlie Hebdo, who paid with their lives, and ensuring that satire and independent journalism cannot be suppressed in this way.'