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DUP condemn threat against Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey


Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey.

Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey.

Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey.

The DUP has condemned a threat against Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey, after he said police informed him of an imminent attack against him.

It is understood the threat was issued by dissident republicans.

The Sinn Fein MLA said police visited him on Thursday and informed him of the threat.

Mr Maskey noted the threat was received after he announced earlier this week that he intended to be a Speaker to represent "every side of the Assembly Chamber" and to engage with "every section of our community".

It comes after threats were issued against Sinn Fein vice-President Michelle O'Neill and Policing Board member Gerry Kelly after attending a PSNI recruitment event in January.

Last months Ms O'Neill announced that dissident republican group the New IRA were planning a car bomb attack on a Sinn Fein member.

Threats were also issued against west Belfast community worker Harry Maguire, while a device was thrown at the home of Martin Finucane, uncle of Sinn Fein North Belfast MP John.

DUP Assembly Chief Whip Keith Buchanan said: "Terrorism was wrong in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Its still wrong today in 2020. Any terrorist threat must be roundly condemned by every democrat.

"Those behind death threats such as this are trying to take Northern Ireland backwards. The ballot box is the means to affect change, not the bomb or bullet."

Mr Maskey said he would continue as normal despite the threat.

"This threat will not deter me from those events or continuing such efforts in the future," the veteran republican said.

“As Speaker of the Assembly, I will be clear that intimidation of any elected representative in our democratic institutions is deplorable whether threats of this nature or vile abuse on social media. It can only be responded to by continuing to work to take our society forward.”

Sinn Fein vice-President Ms O'Neill said her thoughts were with the Maskey family.

“Alex Maskey has in the past been seriously injured, and his friend and party colleague Alan Lundy murdered, in attacks on his home by loyalist death squads," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

"These current threats against Alex are an attack on the whole democratic process.

“Alex has made it clear he will not be deterred by these threats. He will continue to carry out his duties as Speaker, working with all parties in the Assembly, without fear or favour.

“Those responsible for these threats should disband immediately.”

A PSNI spokesperson said that they "do not discuss the security of individuals and no inference should be drawn from this".

"However, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk," the spokesperson said.

West Belfast MLA Mr Maskey has served at Stormont from 1998, previously representing South Belfast.

He was the first member of Sinn Fein elected to Belfast City Council and the first to serve as Lord Mayor of Belfast.

Mr Maskey was seriously injured during an attack by loyalist paramilitaries in 1987. His brother Paul Maskey is MP for West Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph

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