Northern Ireland news

New Belfast mayor John Finucane 'won't be deterred' after loyalist threat

New lord mayor of Belfast John Finucane with Prince Charles during a visit to the city yesterday. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Brendan Hughes

BELFAST'S new lord mayor John Finucane says he will "not be deterred" after police warned him loyalists were planning to attack him at his family home.

The Sinn Féin councillor, who received the chains of office on Tuesday, said police came to his house later that night and informed him of the threat.

His father, Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane, was shot dead in 1989 by loyalists in front of his young family at their home in north Belfast.

The high-profile solicitor lived and worked in the city, and convicted IRA members were among his clients.

Newly elected Mr Finucane is also a prominent solicitor and is now aged 39 – the same age as his father when he was murdered during the Troubles.

The councillor said the threat was not just against him, but also "a threat against democracy".

"I am committed to serving and representing all the people of this city and I will not be deterred from that by threats from anyone," he added.

The PSNI said it does 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," a police spokesman said.

"We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk."

Sinn Féin councillor John Finucane in Belfast on his first day as the city's lord mayor. Picture by Mal McCann

Speaking later on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme, Mr Finucane said he was "not surprised" by the threat.

He said the reference to the family home was something "a lot of people would have picked up on quite quickly, but it's not something that I will get distracted by".

"I am committed to this job and this role and I don't wish to dwell on it. It doesn't distract me from the work that I have," he said.

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly described the threat as "reprehensible" and "cowardly".

"The reference to his family home was clearly deliberate, given this is where his father was murdered by loyalists," he said.

Yesterday, Mr Finucane greeted Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall on a visit to the fire-damaged Primark building in Belfast city centre.

In the past, some Sinn Féin reps have been reluctant to meet British royals but Mr Finucane previously said he would have "no difficulty" with such meetings.

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