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AEJ & Minister Alex White

To mark World Press Freedom Day, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White TD, was a guest of the Irish Section of the AEJ.

In a wide-ranging speech, he touched on media mergers, free to air broadcasting, Freedom of Information legislation and Public Service Broadcasting.

He also spoke about the importance of World Press Freedom Day, celebrating as it does the fundamentals of press freedom and independence, as well as recalling those who died in the exercise of their profession.

He spoke in particular of the Charlie Hebdo attack in January, noting that just prior to that the International Federation of Journalists had published a report outlining the number of journalistic deaths in 2014(118) and remarking that this report provoked little comment in Europe, but that Charlie Hebdo had changed all that..

It was, he said, akin to the killing of Veronica Guerin in Dublin in 1996, which became a touchstone in Ireland – Veronica Guerin was a Crime Correspondent with the Sunday Independent, who was gunned down by a drugs gang in June 1996, having survived two previous attempts on her life. Her death ultimately led to the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Minister White said the Charlie Hebdo killings reminded us of the values of a Free Press, as did the killing of Veronica Guerin , and he urged the AEJ to keep highlighting this.