Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein under attack from 'dissident loyalists and republicans'

By Claire Williamson

Sinn Fein have come under attack from both dissident loyalists and republicans in a spate of threats on party representatives.

It comes as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness took to Twitter to blame "anti-democratic dissidents" for overnight attacks on Sinn Fein councillors.

On Wednesday morning there was a bomb warning at the west Belfast home of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

Officers investigating the alert found nothing untoward.

Mr Adams said: "In recent weeks there has been a concerted series of threats and attacks on the homes of Sinn Féin members.

“There can be no place for these type of actions nor will they deter Sinn Fein from working to advance the peace process and advance our political objectives.

“Sinn Fein will not be intimidated.”

Inspector Roy Burnside said: "Officers attended and nothing untoward was found."

Most recently east Derry Westminster candidate Caoimhe Archibald received a death threat from a group styling itself the "Real UFF".

The threat came in the post on a sympathy card to the Dungiven Sinn Fein office.

 Ms Archibald said:"This threat was sent by post to the Dungiven Sinn Féin office. Inside the sympathy card was stencilled the message ‘Real UFF’.

"This is a worrying development given the upsurge of UFF activity in the East Derry and North Antrim areas. This is another group of people who are intent on dragging us back to the past.

"We are taking this threat very seriously and my party colleagues and I will be meeting with senior PSNI officers later today to discuss this threat.

"Neither I nor any of my Sinn Féin colleagues will be deterred from carrying out our work on behalf of all sections of our community.”

In a statement Mr McGuinness addressed the recent spate of attacks on Sinn Fein representatives calling it an "attack on the democratic process".

He said:  "What happened last night was not only an attempt to intimidate elected representatives, but an attack on their families - including Councillor Kelly's young children and heavily pregnant partner.

“It was also an attack on the wider democratic process coming just a day before the Westminster election, carried out by so-called dissident republican elements. 

"It shows the contempt of those behind these attacks for the will of the people.  

“I am calling on all the community to defend the progress and gains of the peace process and to reject those intent on dragging us back to the past.”

On Tuesday night two Sinn Fein councillors had their cars attacked in Londonderry.

The cars belonged to councillors Sandra Duffy and Colly Kelly.

On Wednesday morning Mr McGuinness tweeted: "With overnight attacks on Sinn Fein Councillors Sandra Duffy & Colly Kelly in Derry, I have no doubt anti democratic dissidents responsible.

"Peace and Democracy are the only way forward. Ongoing concerted dissident attacks on SF elected reps & their families will fail.#unbowed."

Two males aged 17 and 23 were arrested in the area of Oakbridge Park on suspicion of criminal damage and are currently in custody assisting police with their enquiries.

Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable Stephen Martin told BBC Radio Foyle: "These attacks pose a risk to lives. They are reckless.

"Martin McGuinness had his house attacked with paint this week. When you add all that up, then there is a high probability that this is all linked to the election."

Meanwhile, last night Sinn Fein's council leader in Belfast Jim McVeigh complained his car was attacked by loyalists as he entered City Hall for the monthly council meeting.

Mr McVeigh said his car was surrounded by a crowd of loyalist protesters who kicked the vehicle and struck it with sticks.

He said he planned to make a formal complaint to the PSNI about the matter.

"As I tried to enter the back gates of City Hall my car was surrounded by a crowd of loyalist protesters," he said.

"My car was kicked, bounced and struck with sticks.

"I was verbally abused, and several of the crowd were shouting insults about the murder today of Gerard Davison. Their behaviour was despicable.

"I intend to make a formal complaint to the police tomorrow and ask that the people responsible be investigated.

"Sinn Fein will not be intimidated by thugs, we will continue to pursue our equality agenda in Belfast City Council."

Also on Tuesday Sinn Fein candidate Mickey Brady said he will "not be deterred" by a third death threat in 24 hours.

On Monday Mr Brady was told by the PSNI a threat had been made against his life.

He was then told a second threat had been received in a phone call in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday morning there was a bomb threat at his family home.

On Monday the Newry and Armagh runner was informed of a threat just 24 hours after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness's home in Londonderry was attacked.

Mr McGuinness  has said Monday's attack on his family home, where his grandchildren were present at the time,  will not deflect him from "building the peace".

Mr McGuinness said: “This was an attack not just on me but on my family too, including my grandchildren who were in the house at the time.

“The people behind these attacks have nothing to offer the community and they are intent on dragging society back to the past.

“Neither I or the people I represent will allow them to do that.

“I will not be deflected from my work as a Sinn Féin representative and as Deputy First Minister of building a peaceful and prosperous future for all our people and creating a society built upon equality and inclusion.”

Further reading:

Sinn Fein councillor's car attacked by loyalists at Belfast City Hall

I'll not buckle, says Sinn Fein's Mickey Brady following third threat in 24 hours

Martin McGuinness: Paint bomb attack on Derry family home won't deflect me from building peace 

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph