LISTEN: politicians unbowed by loyalist paramilitary threat

by Q Radio News and PA.

Various Northern Irish politicians have been threatened by loyalist paramilitaries.

SDLP MLA, and Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Patsy McGlone, the UUP Leader, Steve Aiken MLA, his UUP colleague, Doug Beattie, and Alliance Party Deputy Leader and North Down MP, Stephen Farry have all received threats.

It comes just says after threats were made against journalists at the Sunday Life and Sunday World newspaper.

Patsy McGlone said he was informed by the PSNI of the threat last night. and "refuses to be intimidated" after being told about a threat against him from loyalist paramilitaries. 

Mr McGlone said that neither he, nor journalists who have received threats this week, will be silenced or censored.

Patsy McGlone

“Late last night, I received a call from senior PSNI Officers with details about a loyalist threat against me. 

“This is not the first time I’ve been threatened by paramilitaries but I can assure those responsible, I will not be silenced, censored or intimidated by faceless thugs.

"In the week of VE commemorations, it is ironic and deeply sinister that they have chosen to mimic fascist attacks on journalists and elected representatives. 

“This threat, and the threats made against journalists in the last week, are an attack on the democratic tradition on this island.

"It must be resisted and those responsible must understand that they will never win." 

Also responding to the threats against him, Steve Aiken MLA said:

“Having served in the Royal Navy for 30 years and in many operational environments, it is somewhat ironic to return home to Northern Ireland and be threatened by so-called ‘loyalists’.

“20 years on from the Belfast Agreement there is no such thing as a paramilitary group left in Northern Ireland, there are only organised crime gangs who exist to make money for their mafia bosses, generally by selling drugs

“The Secretary of State and the Chief Constable need to make it very clear – by words and deeds – that this type of threat will not be tolerated in any part of the United Kingdom, and that the people responsible will be on the receiving end of swift and decisive action. These threats are not normal and they should not be treated as if they are. Threats against politicians and journalists by crime gangs are nothing less than fascism – it wouldn’t be tolerated in Glasgow, Manchester or London, and it shouldn’t be tolerated here.”

His party colleague, Doug Beattie MLA said:

“I have been threatened many times while serving my country in uniform and I treated those threats with contempt, as I do with this present threat. What does concern me is that criminal gangs should feel confident enough to threaten journalists and politicians, and this is a testament to just how little they fear the criminal justice system in this country. This is simply not acceptable in a western European democracy in the 21st Century.   

“The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland simply want to get on with their lives. They deserve the chance to do that free from gangsters and criminals. Local communities, plagued by these gangs who attempt to drain them of their dignity and hard earned money, need the Police to round up these bullies and put them away for as long as possible. There should be no more talk of strategies and inducements; quite simply, these criminal gangs need to be closed down once and for all with sentences that act as a real deterrent.” 

Mr Farry expressed solidarity with the other MLAs, adding: "None of us will be deterred in anyway from defending freedom of press and standing up to paramilitaries."

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has hit out at those responsible. 

“Those responsible for this threat obviously don’t know Patsy McGlone. He will not be broken or silenced by those intent on intimidating him and others. 

“These thugs need to understand that every threat against an elected representative or a journalist or anyone else is an attack on our peace and an attack on the democratic will of the people of this island. It is a fight they will never win. 

“The threats made against Patsy and a number of journalists in the last week should be lifted immediately. Everyone on this island should be able to live and work free from the threat of violence.”

Sinn Fein MLA Linda Dillon urged anyone with information to take it to police.

"This is the latest in a number of threats issued against journalists and elected representatives by criminal gangs," she said.

"Politicians, like everyone, should be free to do their work and represent their constituents free from threats, fear or intimidation.

"The people behind these kinds of faceless threats have nothing to offer our society.

"Anyone with any information on the people behind these threats should bring it forward to the PSNI, who must take action to remove these gangs from our streets."

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