Gerry Adams has said there is a serious threat to his life from dissident republicans – but he would not be deterred from taking risks for peace.
The homes of the Sinn Fein leader and alleged former IRA intelligence director Bobby Storey were visited by police late on Sunday night to warn them that their lives were in danger, the party claimed.
It is believed to be the first time Storey – an icon within the republican movement – has been threatened by dissidents.
The day before, at a west Belfast rally in support of Mr Adams, he suggested the former MP for the area was "untouchable".
Speaking last night, Mr Adams said he would not be cowed by the threats. "That's the risk that I and others have to take, and are prepared to take, because the peace process is bigger than us," he said.
"We have to be very steadfast and resolute, and patient as well."
Sinn Fein justice spokesman Raymond McCartney described the threats against the two as "credible".
"The PSNI officer told Gerry Adams' wife Collette that they had information of a 'serious threat from criminals' to Gerry Adams, who was not at home at the time," said the Foyle MLA.
"Clearly there are elements that are opposed to the peace process and anti-Sinn Fein. We will not allow them to succeed, nor will we be deflected from our determination to build the peace process."
Mr Storey was among high-ranking Sinn Fein figures to address republicans at a rally against Mr Adams' arrest, also attended by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
The veteran was scathing of the handling of Mr Adams' arrest.
Mr Storey told those in attendance: "This (rally) tells the respect that Gerry Adams is held in but also the anger and the annoyance that they would have the ... that they would dare touch our party leader, the leader of Irish republicanism."
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt hit out at the criticism of the arrest, saying nobody was exempt from police investigations.
"They dare touch his leader because he offered and asked them to touch him, and secondly, if police have a line of inquiry nobody is above the law," said Mr Nesbitt.
"That was an explicit admission that people like Bobby Storey think people like Gerry Adams are beyond the reach of the law, which is totally unacceptable."
Mr Storey also told those gathered on the Falls Road on Saturday: "The reason we are here today is because of the surge of Sinn Fein across this island.
"We have a message for the British Government, for the Irish Government, for the cabal that is out there: we haven't gone away, you know."
That comment drew comparisons to a reference to the IRA made by Gerry Adams almost two decades ago. Following an upsurge in loyalist street violence, a Sinn Fein supporter had interrupted a speech by Mr Adams at City Hall.
"Bring back the IRA," the republican called out, which prompted an unscripted reply from Mr Adams on the platform: "They haven't gone away, you know."
The weekend echo of the phrase by Mr Storey – a close ally of Mr Adams – was described as "sinister" by Mr Nesbitt.
"It is a phrase which, because of Gerry Adams' speech, is inextricably linked with the IRA and was a reassurance to republicans that the armed struggle as a tactic has not been ruled out, it seems to me," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"What else can you interpret 'we haven't gone away' to mean other than we reserve the right to return? It's a veiled threat to society – incredibly sinister and threatening to use those words."