The publishers of three Belfast-based newspapers and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have joined together to stand up for journalists and press freedom in Northern Ireland.

This initiative has attracted local and global endorsement, involving many prominent individuals and organisations, all listed in the article on the NUJ website

The public statement appears in the Belfast Telegraph, Irish News and News Letter newspapers today.

This unprecedented joint initiative aims to highlight and challenge the increasing number of threats of violence inflicted on the media.

You can sign the petition to stop the rise in death threats against Northern Ireland journalists here!

British freelance journalists and photographers may have left the European Union but can still apply for the Coronavirus emergency funds - TOZO - without affecting their residence status.

Freelancers registered with the Chamber of Commerce and working approximately 24 hours a week have a right to apply for TOZO if their income has been affected by the Coronavirus. However, those who do not have permanent residence, especially those in the Netherlands for fewer than five years, and required to remain “economically active”, feared that applying for TOZO may end their right to the residence.

However, while British citizens may no longer be members of the EU, those legally resident here prior to 31/12/2020 are effectively EU citizens for these purposes.

In addition, regarding non-EU citizens in general, Justice and Security minister Ankie Broekers-Knol has replied to a Groen Links question concerning the issue saying: “I will make an exception for non-EU citizens with a residence permit for definite time [i.e. a non-permanent residence permit] with the purpose ‘work in self-employment’ who claim a benefit based on the Temporary Bridging Scheme for Self-Employed Entrepreneurs (TOZO). Considering the special circumstances and the temporary nature of the scheme, claiming a benefit based on this scheme will not have any consequences for the right of residence of the non-EU citizen in question.”

At a joint webinar for business, hosted by the UK and Dutch governments, looking at their response to the Covid 19 crisis, NUJ branch member, photographer Nick Gammon, raised, on behalf of the branch, the issue of TOZO and residency. He asked whether the inevitable drop in future income would not prejudice applications for permanent residency. Nick reports that the UK ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, said that any reduction in income would not affect EU citizens applying for UK residency, while the Dutch ambassador to the UK, Simon Smits, agreed with this general principle.

Nick has also raised this with Jeremy Bierbach, expert with Amsterdam law firm Franssen, which specialise in immigration issues. Bierbach said that under EU treaties and the EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement it would be very difficult for the Netherlands to expel UK citizens legally living here, with less than 5 years residency, for being “economically inactive” under these circumstances.

And, to nail the point, Nick Gammon also argues the government should regard TOZO payments as income rather than benefits and therefore an indication of “economic activity”. 

Check out 'Can EU/EEA/Swiss/British citizens (and their family members) in the Netherlands receive coronavirus support?


For general information:

On Saturday 18 April at 11 am NUJ members will join in solidarity and remembrance to mark the 1st anniversary of the killing of journalist and NUJ member Lyra McKee.
The union plans to mark the anniversary of her needless death in Northern Ireland by celebrating her life and legacy. We invite media organisations, trade unionists, civil society leaders and members of the public to join with us as they did so effectively following her killing.
The union is encouraging members and friends to take part in a symbolic virtual commemoration at 11 am on Saturday morning, using social media to highlight the shared values which Lyra embraced under the banner #WeStandWithLyra
The NUJ has asked media workers to share examples of Lyra's journalism, tributes, memories and pictures on Saturday morning.
In a statement Séamus Dooley said: “In the current circumstances we will gather through social media, which she used so effectively, to celebrate Lyra’s legacy of hope and optimism. We are asking members to take time at 11 am to remember Lyra. Her partner and family will be in our thoughts as  the NUJ community unites under the banner ‘WeStandWithLyra.’ That slogan remains relevant; Lyra’s positive spirit serves as an inspiration in these dark days.”

© matt kenyonThe National Union of Journalists has launched a News Recovery Plan for the UK and Ireland to sustain the press and media through the Covid-19 crisis and reinvigorate the industry into a reimagined future. 

You can read more about the plan on the NUJ website.

The NUJ has also launched a petition to generate support for the plan.

Sign your support now!



These are tough days for everyone, self-employed journalists in particular, but you are not alone. Your union is there to help

The union's hardship fund NUJ Extra may be able to help financially. 

You could try too the Authors’ Emergency Fund and The Journalists’ Charity.  

Should any NUJ members, involved in critical work face, difficulties from the authorities, then please contact the NUJ. Your union will make representations on behalf of any members whose work is clearly in the public interest. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The International Federation of Journalists also has this advice on Coronavirus safety.

And journalists may have to deal with traumatic situations while reporting on COVID-19. Guidelines from the Global Investigative Journalists network. 

If you need to contact NUJ staff, log in to the website to access phone numbers of the union's full-time officials. The union's offices are now closed. Meanwhile, if possible, the NUJ would like to hear from freelance members about how the present emergency is affecting you. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the Netherlands, the self-employed can apply for temporary financial support under the TOZO (Tijdelijke overbruggingsregeling zelfstandig ondernemers) scheme.

You are entitled to three month’s income support up to a social minimum of approximately €375 a week. The exact amount depends on the composition of your household and your income. You do not have to repay this. There is also no asset and partner test. There are qualifications, however. You must be registered with the Chamber of Commerce (although this might be relaxed to only ID card), be resident, legally, in the municipality, and work at least 1,225 hours per year (Approximately three days a week).

Check for possible updates and your eligibility as rules might be relaxed as a result of lobbying efforts from various stakeholders.

See Coronavirus: Dutch government adopts package of new measures designed to save jobs and the economy

Extra tijdelijke ondersteuning voor zelfstandigen zonder personeel (zzp’ers)

Vragen over de Tijdelijke overbruggingsregeling zelfstandig ondernemers (Tozo)

Applications can be made through your local authority up to 1 June 2020. For Amsterdam, see Ondersteuning voor zelfstandigen / zzp'ers

If planning to apply, call the Chamber of Commerce if you need more information: KVK-coronaloket: Koophandel Adviesteam: 0800-2117 (opening hours 8.30 to 17.00 o‘clock). 

People can also appeal to the regular unemployment benefit (WW) or social assistance (bijstand) under the Participation Act (Participatiewet).

Also helpful is the Dutch union the NVJ’s website on freelancers and corona: Corona crisis voor journalisten and Financiële hulp en uitstel van betalingen 

And finally, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned this week: "now, it is more important than ever that journalists are able to do their job freely and precisely, so as to counter disinformation and to ensure that our citizens have access to crucial information".

Statement by President von der Leyen on emergency measures in Member States

That’s why we are journalists. Anyone in difficulties or want to share experiences do contact the branch: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

So stay healthy, stay home if you can, and if your work takes you out, stay safe.