Northern Ireland news

Review of Robin Swann's security requested by UUP leader after online threats

Robin Swann’s UUP leader Doug Beattie said he had asked for an assessment of the minister’s security to be carried out
David Young, PA

The Northern Ireland Office has been asked to review the security of Health Minister Robin Swann after he received renewed threats over his stance on Covid-19 issues.

Robin Swann’s UUP leader Doug Beattie said he had asked for an assessment of the minister’s security to be carried out after what he described as an online “backlash” to his call for the introduction of mandatory vaccine passports in the north.

Mr Beattie said one person had been arrested.

The PSNI said officers in Newtownards detained a man in his 40s in the early hours of this morning on suspicion of harassment, threats to kill and persistent improper use of electronic communications. He remained in custody this afternoon.

It is the second recent occasion Mr Beattie has publicly warned of threats to Mr Swann, having told the Assembly in September that his colleague had been warned by police of a threat against him.

Today, he told the PA news agency: “Robin has come out and said that from advice that he’s taken that he believes in the implementation of Covid certification and that has led to a degree of a backlash from a certain set of people who are not happy about that decision.

“He has received threats, some are quite awful actually, online in regards to that and people saying that they will turn up to protest outside of his house and other quite disturbing things being said.

“It’s quite clear that people don’t realise that Robin is only doing what he believes is right for the people of Northern Ireland that they would threaten him.

“This is pretty disgraceful and, as far as Robin is concerned, I think his biggest concern is his family.”

Mr Beattie added: “Robin has had to increase his security already once and I’ve been in touch myself personally with the Northern Ireland Office to ask them to do an assessment of Robin’s security again, at a higher level – that’s the level we’ve got to at this moment in time.

“It’s pretty diabolical I’ve got to say that our health minister, who is trying to do the best for the country, is threatened in such a way.”

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