Ireland slams threats to reporters covering Dublin gang war

DUBLIN – Two reporters covering the Dublin gang war have received death threats from criminals because of their work, but they won’t be deterred from exposing Ireland’s underworld, the country’s largest newspaper group said Thursday.

“This is an outrageous threat to the freedom of the press in Ireland and we are taking the threats with the utmost seriousness,” said Stephen Rae, editor-in-chief of Independent News and Media, which owns more than a dozen newspapers in Ireland.

Independent News and Media declined to identify the two reporters whose lives are being threatened by criminals angered by their coverage of the past week’s tit-for-tat gun attacks in Dublin. Those shootings left two men dead and two wounded and spurred police to mount armed road checkpoints. Nobody has yet been charged in the attacks.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny and other Irish leaders condemned the threats.

“In any self-respecting society, journalists must be afforded the freedom to go about their jobs without fear of reprisal,” Kenny said.

The newspaper group’s Dublin-based titles — the Independent, Evening Herald and Sunday World — are noted for their aggressive coverage of Ireland’s crime scene.

Thursday’s reported threats come nearly 20 years after a crime reporter for the group’s Sunday Independent newspaper, Veronica Guerin, was shot to death by members of a Dublin drug-trafficking gang that she was investigating. Her killing inspired a crackdown on gang crime and two Hollywood films.

Ireland’s National Union of Journalists urged reporters covering the current conflict “to remain vigilant and mindful of their personal safety.”

Crime analysts say the feud pits henchmen loyal to Christy “The Dapper Don” Kinahan against those loyal to Gerry “The Monk” Hutch. It has grown since September, when one of Hutch’s nephews was killed by the Kinahan cartel in its Spanish power base — followed by a failed attempt on Hutch himself on New Year’s Eve in the Canary Islands.

On Friday, gunmen attacked a Dublin boxing weigh-in ceremony that several Kinahan lieutenants, including his son Daniel, had travelled from Spain to attend. Daniel Kinahan was not shot but three other men linked to the Kinahan gang were, one fatally.

Three nights later, gunmen presumed to be Kinahan supporters killed Hutch’s brother Eddie in the hallway of his Dublin home.