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Minister for Foreign Affairs addresses EU “Media and Conflict” conference in Dublin

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D., today delivered a keynote address to the ‘Media and Conflict’ conference in Dublin, making a plea for media freedom across the globe.

Speaking at the event in the Royal Irish Academy, organised by the European Commission, the Minister pledged support for tougher action against those who attack journalists or prevent them from carrying out their work. Ireland’s period as chair of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2012 would be used to make progress on this issue.

“Attacks on journalists cannot be tolerated and I will place freedom of the media at the centre of our Chairmanship’’, Minister Martin said, noting that advances in technology “offered great opportunities to keep the citizens of the world better informed about decisions affecting their lives but could also be manipulated to discredit those who seek out uncomfortable truths.’’ This complex and ever-changing environment requires tougher regulation to ensure journalists have the freedom to report without fear or favour.

Minister Martin also appealed to journalists and editors not to forget conflicts in remote areas: “As Foreign Minister, I see the consequences of these conflicts first hand on visits to affected regions. Galvanising resources to prevent future conflict in areas such as Liberia and the DRC is much more difficult because of a lack of media focus. The challenge facing you all is to instil a sense of urgency in your organisations about frozen or forgotten conflicts and to impart this also to your readership and audiences.”

Recalling the crucial role of the media in reporting on the conflict in Northern Ireland and in the Middle East, the Minister highlighted the crucial role of journalists in deepening public understanding of conflict: “As professional communicators you are uniquely positioned to reach viewers, readers and listeners around the world – to transform the local to the global.”

Note for Editors:

The “Media and Conflict” conference is organised by the EuroMed communication programme of the European Commission and will look at the role of the media in conflict situations. Participants are journalists from countries to the south and east of the European Union.

Among the speakers are Robert Fisk, Proinsias de Rossa, Denis Staunton, Paul Gillespie, Karen Coleman and Paddy Woodworth.