Journalists still welcome - council

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has welcomed confirmation that reporters will not be excluded from Council meetings in Strabane.

Earlier this year journalists were informed of a proposal to stop the press from attending Strabane District Council’s committee meetings.

But the NUJ - who objected to the move - says it has now been told the press is still welcome to attend its committee meetings.

Welcoming the council’s clarification, NUJ President Barry McCall said: “Strabane council’s correspondence is good news for media freedom and the public interest. The NUJ’s members now know that they can continue to do their job and serve the public interest by covering the business of these committees.”

Strabane Council’s correspondence to the NUJ stated:””As part of our normal business proposals, a proposal was developed by officers which regretfully was released before it was fully considered as an option. This option was not presented to Council nor was it considered at Committee.”

The council’s correspondence added: “The public and press remain welcome, as they have always been, to attend committees of Strabane District Council.”

Barry McCall continued: “I would congratulate Derry North West Branch for its vigilance and for raising its concerns promptly with the council. The branch’s rapid action in writing to the council resulted in clarifications and written assurances that should ease our members’ concerns. I would also thank the council for its quick response to the branch.”

However, the NUJ President called on journalists in Ireland and Britain to be vigilant about media access to council information.

He said: “There have been problems in other councils, with media access to committee meetings being restricted.

“Where this has happened it is unacceptable. Any journalist who finds themselves barred from attending council meetings of any type should contact the NUJ as we will continue to campaign for media freedom in the public interest.”