International Press Freedom Award Acceptance Address
delivered 1995, New York
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio (2)]
I really am both humbled and honored to receive this award, particularly because of the company that I'm keeping here. The other recipients, I certainly feel, are more deserving than myself.
I'm accepting this award on behalf of myself and particularly on behalf of my colleagues in the Sunday Independent who have encouraged me and supported me in my investigative work whilst I've been working in the paper.
It is very unusual to hear that an Irish reporter has been shot or intimidated. Unfortunately, because of the ever-rising crime problems in Ireland, a number of reporters -- not just myself -- have been subjected to death threats and to intimidation on a daily basis. So, for my colleagues in other newspapers and in the broadcast media, I'm grateful that the CPJ [Committee to Protect Journalists] have decided to honor an Irish and European journalist.
Unfortunately, in -- in Ireland, journalists there also have to face the -- the threat of possible imprisonment. And I welcome this opportunity to highlight the appalling case of a colleague of mine who works in the Irish Independent. And she, too, is facing, like Fred M'membe, here -- she's facing a possible jail sentence. And the reason that she's facing possible imprisonment is because she published a document which was widely circulated in the -- within the police force in Ireland about the suspects of the bank robbery which I reported the day before my -- which I reported on the day before my shooting.
Now, Liz Allen is -- is my colleague who's facing a possible jail sentence. She's -- it's alleged -- [breached the] The Official Secrets Act. We have to face, you know, we write under ridiculous restrictive laws in Ireland. It's a wonderful country, great place to visit, but unfortunately for journalists the most difficult thing that we have to work within are our restrictive libel laws. It's difficult for our publishers because they're the people who have to pay the lawyers the massive amounts of money on a daily basis in courts.
These are the issues that I feel that I have to highlight here. It's not the fact that journalists may be shot. But it is the "legitimate" restrictions that we work within. And I thank you, I thank the Committee for The Protection of Journalists for giving me the opportunity to highlight this.
I really am humbled and honored to accept this award. In doing so, I want to thank two people who have encouraged me, despite an incredibly difficult last twelve months. And they are my husband, Graham, and my son, Cathal. Because I can assure you that if they hadn't supported me, I wouldn't be doing it.
Thank you very much.
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