A death threat from dissident republicans will not deter Sinn Fein junior minister Gerry Kelly from his work, he has vowed.
The North Belfast assembly member said police did not say who was behind the threat phoned to the Samaritans on Wednesday, but that he was warned to ‘watch his back’.
Mr Kelly said: “While I take this threat seriously, be certain that it will not detract me from my political work or from representing the people of north Belfast.”
He called on republican splinter groups Republican Network for Unity, Republican Sinn Fein, Eirigi and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, to justify what he claimed was their role in three nights of rioting in Ardoyne.
He said the groups were “microgroups” who were “euphemistically called dissident republicans”.
“I am once again calling on spokespeople for the various dissident organisations to explain the rationale for leaving a loaded weapon in the middle of Ardoyne, which was found by children and worse again for firing shots and using pipe bombs in the midst of a riot situation, which is uncontrolled and where you have many children in the vicinity.”
He said the groups came to |Ardoyne early on Monday afternoon and displaced an official protest by residents.
“It is up to them to explain to the community why, for the third successive night, they have encouraged young people, many of them children, to bring havoc and untold disruption and trauma onto the community of Ardoyne.
“It is easy to start a riot, but very difficult to stop it. It becomes a magnet for all sorts of people.”
He said people in the area had become involved, “who are disaffected and at other times of year, threaten the area with area with anti-social behaviour”.
It would require “deep cynicism” to believe that dissidents wished to create a situation of such violence that a child might be killed. “But if you bring weapons into a riot situation, it’s not a controlled situation,” he said.
“With weapons and pipe bombs, then it is a miracle — and I don’t exaggerate here — and that we are sitting here and not dealing with that situation.”
But he also criticised the Orange Order. “Marching up through areas where they are clearly not wanted is a clear provocation”.
Two men arrested after a shot was fired at police on Monday were released unconditionally.
And the home of a Sinn Fein worker in north Belfast was petrol bombed on Wednesday morning, causing minor scorch damage.