Northern Ireland news

Nigel Dodds says Sir David Amess murder has caused 'shockwaves' for politicians

Former DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds. Picture by Mal McCann

FORMER DUP deputy leader Lord Dodds has described the murder of MP Sir David Amess as an attack on democracy.

The former North Belfast MP, who survived two attempts on his life during his political career, said last Friday's killing had caused shockwaves among politicians.

He said the MP's murder appeared "completely random".

"Why was it Jo Cox, why was it David Amess? Many hundreds of MPs hold constituency surgeries, particularly on Fridays and at weekends," he told the BBC.

"This is an attack on democracy, not just an individual - people trying to silence and shut down political opinion and debate, democracy in the United Kingdom."

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne has contacted elected representatives in the north to discuss their security following the murder of Sir David.

MPs gathered in the House of Commons yesterday to pay tribute to the murdered MP.

Lord Dodds said there was a determination across the political spectrum to "carry on and not let these people win".

He also called for a social media crackdown on online trolls, saying that politicians, particularly women, were "abused on a daily basis".

"It has got a lot worse and social media companies have to take responsibility and stop these anonymous trolls that whip up hate and hysteria," he said.

Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long said the murder of Sir David was a "reminder of the vulnerability that all of us face in public life".

She said while work had been done around security at constituency offices since the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, politicians spent a lot of time in church halls, community centres and in the community.

"Politicians want to be available and accessible and approachable, you want to be able to have people come up to you and be able to talk to you about the issues they are concerned about, but at the same time there is always a tension there about what happens if someone comes up and they're violent or aggressive, and you don't really have much in terms of defence or protection," she told the BBC's Stephen Nolan Show.

Ms Long has spent 20 years in politics, and said she got her first death threat 19 years ago.

She described her car being attacked with golf balls after attending a vigil over a racist attack, as well as getting spat on, jostled and getting locked in the grounds of a church after a constituency surgery.

She also revealed that she has had to review her own security within recent weeks due to threats.

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