Northern Ireland

ANP threat to PSNI family members condemned

ANP, which was responsible for a security alert in the Waterside area of Derry last year, has declared family members of PSNI officers 'legitimate targets'
ANP, which was responsible for a security alert in the Waterside area of Derry last year, has declared family members of PSNI officers 'legitimate targets'

A threat by a republican group to treat the relatives of PSNI officers a “legitimate targets” has been widely condemned.

The PSNI confirmed on Monday that it has sent an internal message to all officers and staff after a threat to family members was issued by Arm na Poblachta (ANP).

It comes almost two weeks after the New IRA shot and seriously injured senior detective John Caldwell near Omagh.

ANP had earlier issued the threat in a statement to The Irish News using a codeword.

"We are now looking at the families of PSNI officers as legitimate targets," the ANP statement said.

"The PSNI have targeted republican sympathisers, now republicans will target family members of PSNI officers."

Speaking to the Irish News Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan later said: "We are taking it seriously and just remind people to take reasonable steps around their security on and off duty," he said.

Mr McEwan said police had established a 'gold group' to look at the threat and other recent republican activity.

In a statement on Tuesday, the chair of the Police Federation Liam Kelly branded the threat “deplorable”.

“Threatening police officers and their families is despicable,” he said.

“Officers work on behalf of everybody without fear or favour.

“And their families make big sacrifices so that officers can continue to safeguard communities and counter the reckless and profit-inspired gangsters who deliver misery.”

Policing Board chair Deirdre Toner condemned that development.

“No one should have to live under a threat because of a career choice, and neither should any member of their family,” she said.

“This is a sinister threat, designed to cause fear. It is condemned by the Board and must be condemned right across the community.”

Alliance Policing Board member Nuala McAllister said the threat should be removed.

“This reprehensible warning is rightly being condemned by political representatives right across the community and that is welcome,” she said.

“However, this despicable threat should be removed immediately.”

Sinn Féin Policing Board member Gerry Kelly also called for the threat to be withdrawn.

“They should publicly withdraw these disgraceful threats, any other threats against police officers, and any intended attacks against anyone,” he said.

“They should pack up and go.”

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson also condemned the threat.

"It is hard to comprehend the mindset of those who would issue a threat against the families of our police officers," he said.

"No-one should face such a threat because of their career and neither should their family.

"I know the whole community will stand united against those who would seek to drag us back.”

In a statement to The Irish News, ANP also claimed that the device had fallen off a car driven by a PSNI officer in the Oeghill Hill Park area of Lettershandoney, near Derry, on Sunday.

However, the PSNI said on Monday that nothing was found.