President Roberta Metsola and MEP Grace O’Sullivan visited the memorial to murdered journalist Veronica Guerin in Dublin Castle for a solemn moment this morning, 3 February 2023. Press freedom remains a serious concern to EU institutions, which are working on a new European Media Freedom Act this year. MEP O’Sullivan continues to campaign for justice for murdered Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
The day after a powerful speech in the Oireachtas, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola stopped off at the small memorial garden to journalist Veronica Guerin, who was murdered in 1996 in a gangland murder near Newlands Cross in Dublin. The President noted that Ms. Guerin was “a woman who spoke truth to power. Who stood up.”
The ceremony comes at an appropriate time when media freedom comes under increasing strain from extremist elements, organised crime and media monopolies. At least two press workers working on the war in Ukraine have been killed, including Irish-American Pierre Zakrzewski. Meanwhile the use of strategic lawsuits known as ‘SLAPPs’ have been increasingly weaponised against the media.
MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan also attended the ceremony with President Metsola and raised the murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead last year by Israeli soldiers in the city of Jenin while reporting the news. No one has yet been brought to justice in that case and Ms. O’Sullivan had nominated the murdered journalist for Europe’s highest honour, the Sakharov Prize, in order to bring international scrutiny to the case.
Speaking from Dublin Castle today, MEP Grace O’Sullivan said: ” I welcome President Metsola’s powerful gesture by being here today to honour Veronica Guerin. The European Union must act as a guarantor of press freedom around the world. As a priority, the EU must stand up for the families of murdered journalists like Shireen Abu Akleh who have yet to see justice served in their case. The Commission has already moved to tackle the use of abusive court proceedings against journalists but it remains a common practice in Ireland.”
In recent months, the European Commission has proposed a number of new measures to defend media freedom, including the European Media Freedom Act which was scrutinised by the Parliament last month. The proposed Regulation includes, among others, safeguards against political interference in editorial decisions and against surveillance. Earlier in 2022, the Commission also moved to take action to improve protection of journalists and human rights defenders from abusive court proceedings and SLAPPs.