Northern Ireland news

Dissident group deny making death threat against Protestant community worker

There has been widespread condemnation of a death threat made against a Protestant community worker in Derry
Seamus McKinney

DISSIDENT republican groups in Derry have denied making a sectarian death threat against a Protestant community worker in the city's Creggan area.

The 64-year-old man, who works on a community allotment project, was informed by police on Thursday that a death threat against him had been received.

It was initially claimed the threat was made by dissident group Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH). However, its leadership has denied the claim.

Mediation efforts are continuing to find who exactly was behind it.

Donna McCloskey of Derry's Bogside and Brandywell Initiative, which co-ordinates the allotment project, called for the threat against the man to be lifted immediately.

She said: “I have to say he has been there three or four months and the people of Creggan, the residents who use the allotments, have made him feel more than welcome.”

Catholic Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown also called for the threat to be lifted.

“It is really very important that we challenge these people to say what is your agenda, who has given you any right to speak or act on our behalf,” he said.

Sinn Fein Creggan councillor Kevin Campbell said the “blatant sectarian threat” had no place in Derry and had to be condemned.

“There is shock in the local community on hearing news of these threats by a dissident grouping against a Protestant man doing a day's work,” he said.

However, Derry's Rosemount Resource Centre – which mediates in cases of paramilitary threats and attacks – said the exact nature of the threat was unclear.

Spokesman Tommy McCourt said it was rightly passed on immediately because of its potentially serious nature.

“It emerged from some people who said they represented ONH. We followed up on that and spoke to the leadership of ONH, and other recognised republican groups, and they told us they had not issued a threat to anyone," he said.

“They said anyone who claimed who be speaking for ONH on this was not doing so."

The community worker said his organisation was now trying to establish who was behind the threat.

“We cannot say everything is okay. All the republican groups are saying they're not behind it - we have to find out who is,” Mr McCourt said.

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