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January 1993
Responsible Journalism

On Friday, October 16, 1992 a group of men entered the Belfast offices of the Sunday World newspaper and left a bag containing a small bomb. The members of staff escaped to safety and the bomb was later defused by British soldiers. On the following day a press statement was issued by a unionist terrorist organisation - the Ulster Volunteer Force - admitting responsibility for the abortive attack on behalf of something called the ‘Combined Loyalist Military Command'.

The UVF accused the Sunday World of setting up loyalists for attack by republican activists through exposure given to them by the paper. It alleged that the Sunday World, by continually publishing their names, addresses and photographs, was instrumental in the targeting and murder of two prominent UVF members, John Bingham and William Marchant, former unionist politician George Seawright and a recent attempt to kill a man in mid-Ulster. 

This person has been named by the newspaper in some articles and his movements and activities have been chronicled. In other articles in which he has been accused of serious crimes, he has not been named but described in such a way as to make him identifiable to would-be assassins.

Few political activists can be surprised at these accusations. The Sunday World was never a paper to let the truth get in the way of a good sensational story. Even Third Way has been a victim of a Sunday World set-up. An article written by David Kerr in Third Way magazine was described as a call to sack the queen. Mr Kerr's place of residence was also disclosed and he was falsely described as a `leading loyalist'. It may be that no malice was intended. Few people believe that. For this reason Third Way has ceased to issue statements to that newspaper and doesn't talk to its journalists. 

Since the bomb attack on its office and a threat of unspecified `retribution' against it, the Sunday World's circulation has dropped. One journalist, Martin O'Hagan, has left Ulster suddenly. We don't condone the UVF’s attack on this newspaper. We hope that threats to workers, distributors, van drivers and newsagents will be lifted. We also hope that sense will prevail at the paper. We don't care if the Sunday World takes an anti-partitionist editorial line but it must realise that it needs to exercise responsibility. Careless talk costs lives.

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