Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness slams 'shameful' threat to decapitate Arlene Foster

By Staff Reporter

Former deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has condemned death threats to Arlene Foster as "shameful and totally unacceptable".

Outgoing First Minister Arlene Foster has revealed she has been threatened with having her head chopped off.

Mrs Foster said the PSNI was investigating several sinister threats made against her on social media, including "one that wanted me beheaded".

Political figures are no strangers to death threats, but it's thought to be the first time one has been menaced with beheading.

Mr McGuinness, who resigned from his role he held for ten years on Monday over the DUP leader's refusal to stand aside over the Renewable Heating Incentive scandal, took to Twitter following the reports.

He said: "The reported threats to Arlene Foster are shameful and totally unacceptable.

"I unreservedly condemn those responsible for the cowards they are."

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire also condemned the threats.

He said: "The threats received by Arlene Foster are completely unacceptable and have no place in our democracy."

In a statement released on Thursday the PSNI said: "We do not discuss the security of individuals.

"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.

"No inference should be drawn from this."

In a wide-ranging interview with the Impartial Reporter, the First Minister strongly rejected a claim made by respected academic Jon Tonge that she had become "damaged goods" because of the fallout from the bungled Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

"You should ask him what he means by that - because I am not damaged goods," she said,

"One wonders what these people will all say when I am cleared after the independent inquiry.

"Will I be listening to a long list of apologies and recriminations when I am completely cleared? Because I will be - and of that I have no doubt."

The DUP leader was equally forthright in dismissing allegation that she was arrogant.

"These are the sort of things that are fired at you when you are a strong leader, particularly when you are a strong female leader," she added.

"If you have strong male leaders they are strong, they are hard, they are tough.

"If you have a strong female leader, they are arrogant."

Turning to RHI, the First Minister set out her thinking on the origins of - and the solution to - the botched heating scheme that has exploded into a major political crisis at Stormont, threatening devolution itself.

"We get a certain amount of money from Westminster to run the renewable heat scheme," she said.

"When I was in the Department (of Enterprise) there was an underspend on that, we were handing money back to Westminster because we weren't using it.

"After I left the department, officials went to the then Minister Jonathan Bell to say: 'There's a difficulty here, we are going to overspend on the money we get from Westminster'.

"And that's when the impact to the Northern Ireland budget was coming into the fore.

"So the proposals that Simon Hamilton (the DUP Economy Minister) has been looking at will bring that back down to just the Westminster money, so it will not cost the taxpayer any money in terms of the block grant."

She denied that Northern Ireland is set to lose almost half-a-billion pounds over the botched scheme.

"Some people say we have lost £490 million," she said.

"Well, we haven't lost £490m because that is the projected spend over 20 years into the future."

However, Mrs Foster was speaking to the Impartial Reporter before Martin McGuinness's shock resignation this week, which has collapsed the Executive - and begun the countdown to an Assembly election.

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