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5 February 1998 Edition

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Adams sceptical of threats against unionists

By Laura Friel

SINN Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed scepticism following a spate of alleged threats to Protestant workers, the family of Billy Wright and Unionist Councillor Andrew Davidson in Derry.

He said that it is significant that Davidson was the only Unionist elected representative to call for direct talks between the UUP and Sinn Féin.

Sinn Fein negotiator Martin McGuinness is convinced that the recent upsurge in threats directed against members of the Protestant community have ``emanated from within loyalist organisations''.

Adams has also called on the RUC to come clean on the origin and validity of these threats.

``Obviously any threat, real or imaginary, is extremely distressing to those against whom it is aimed,'' he said, ``our party has vigorously repudiated these threats and extended solidarity to the recipients.''

Adams described himself as ``extremely concerned'' that the threats have been elevated into a huge media crisis and as being ``deeply sceptical'' about the origin of the claims.

``Only in one instance has a name been used and this is extremely dubious'' said Adams,''In other cases no organisation has been named and some of these threats are no more than anonymous, poorly written or typed letters. No code-words have been used.''

Describing the RUC as ``strangely silent,'' Adams pointed out that he and his colleagues received threats, sometimes on a daily basis. ``They are usually consigned to the wastepaper basket,'' he added.

But at critical times like this rumours and stories can cause instability and anxiety, ``there is a responsibility on all those in positions of authority, including the media, to prevent this from happening,'' said Adams.

Martin McGuinness said,

``Last week's LVF statement that they would no longer kill `ordinary' Catholics was designed to give a false sense of relief to those who felt vulnerable''.

Saying that there is a sinister element behind this recent upsurge of threats, he continued, ``This attempt to heighten tension through phantom threats to the Protestant community should be seen for what it is, a plan to justify a return to mass intimidation and attacks on vulnerable Catholics.''

McGuinness said that as negotiations move closer to the target date of May 1, we can expect to see these organisations increase their terror campaigns to prevent movement on constitutional issues.

McGuinness' comments follow renewed threats against nationalists by the LVF. On the pretext of reciprocating threats allegedly made against the Wright family, the LVF said it would ``unleash an unholy war on the nationalist community'' unless the alleged threat was lifted.

The LVF statement came as the group issued wanted posters blaming British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam for the death of Billy Wright and ``all other murders and military action taken by the LVF.''.

Similar poster threats were made against Billy Hutchinson and David Ervine, political spokespersons for loyalist rival grouping the UVF. A further threat was issued against a top prison official.
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