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Foster and O'Neill condemn threats from loyalist paramilitaries


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First Minister Arlene Foster.

First Minister Arlene Foster.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill in the Assembly on Tuesday.

UUP leader Steve Aiken

UUP leader Steve Aiken

PA

UUP's Doug Beattie

UUP's Doug Beattie

Stephen Farry of Alliance

Stephen Farry of Alliance

Sinn Fein’s Linda Dillon

Sinn Fein’s Linda Dillon

The SDLP’s Patsy McGlone

The SDLP’s Patsy McGlone

First Minister Arlene Foster.

First Minister Arlene Foster has condemned threats by loyalist paramilitaries against journalists and politicians, saying such threats have no place in a democracy.

It's after politicians spoke out against threats made to Sunday Life and Sunday World journalists and a number of politicians who defended them.

Mrs Foster took to Twitter on Monday evening to condemn the threats.

Speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said she wished to condemn the threats against politicians.

"Those threats have no place in our society and should be condemned by each and every one of us," she said.

UUP leader Steve Aiken was one of the politicians who was threatened. Speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday, he said the threats "undermine democracy".

"Attacks on anybody, not just MLAs but journalists as well, fundamentally undermines the principles of our democracy in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the world," he said.

Sinn Fein's Linda Dillon is the latest politician to have been threatened, her party said.

Police also contacted UUP Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie, SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone and Alliance MP Stephen Farry on Monday warning of a "credible threat" from loyalists.

Principal Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly Christopher Stalford also condemned the threats.

"We all stand with you and condemn utterly those who would harass or harangue the democratically elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland," he said.

Meanwhile, SDLP politician Colin McGrath and the Alliance Party's Kellie Armstrong also spoke out against those who made the threats. "Nobody in a democratic society should have to face such threats," said Mr McGrath.

It follows widespread condemnation over recent days as news of the threats spread.

Speaking at Monday's Executive press conference, Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney said those responsible were "despicable" and called for politicians to be allowed get on with "the real priorities in this society".

"Those responsible should go away and allow all fair and reasonable minded people to get on with the real priority in this society; ensuring we save lives, maintain the public health message that we need to work together in a joined up way, a whole society approach towards the development of a pathway beyond Covid-19," he said.

DUP ministerial colleague Gordon Lyons said: "Journalists, like politicians, play a very important part in our society and should be allowed to get on with their jobs. There is no room whatsoever for threats."

The Sunday Life and Sunday World journalists were targeted because of exposes about UDA involvement in criminality, drug dealing and involvement in the January murder of terminally ill Glen Quinn in Carrickfergus.

Police visited the journalists' homes during the early hours of Friday morning, with one being told of a potential under-car booby-trap attack.

Belfast Telegraph