Belfast Telegraph

Derry councillor's dissident threat claims 'ridiculous'

By Donna Deeney

An independent councillor has been branded "ridiculous" and "embarrassing" after claiming that there was no dissident threat to 11 community safety wardens working for Derry City Council.

Derry City Council member Paul Gallagher was part of the delegation that negotiated the lifting of the threat made by a group calling itself the IRA.

He has accused Derry City Council's chief executive Sharon O'Connor of mishandling the situation and misinterpreting the threat that resulted in the suspension of the scheme. His comments come despite a statement from a group calling itself the Derry Brigade of the IRA ordering "Community Safety Wardens to cease and desist or they would face execution".

Mr Gallagher said: "Sharon O'Connor broadcasted that there was a threat against the wardens when there wasn't and instead of calling hundreds of people out onto the streets she should have went to the individuals and to the unions but instead she mishandled the whole situation and misinterpreted what was being said so that the whole thing got out of hand."

Ms O'Connor robustly defended her actions which were supported by the Deputy Mayor of Derry, Alderman Gary Middleton.

She said she had to ensure the safety and well-being of her staff and added: "Any suggestions that the threats did not exist are totally scurrilous considering they were issued to and printed in the front page of a local newspaper."

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