8 April 1999 Edition
RUC deliver 12 death threats
By Pádraig MacDabhaid
Sinn Féin's North Belfast Assembly member, Gerry Kelly, has attacked the RUC for employing death threats as a means of intimidating people.
His irate accusation was made after the RUC visited at least a dozen homes in North Belfast and informed occupants that their lives were under threat. Kelly said: ``When asked the nature or source of the threats, the RUC refused to elaborate. This is unacceptable, as it does not allow the individual to assess the seriousness of the threat or indeed if there is genuine threat. Some individuals believe that the RUC are utilising the present political uncertainty and increased level of loyalist attacks as an opportunity to intimidate republicans and their families''.
One of those threatened, a single mother of four, has fled her home in terror. Margaret McClenaghan is one of the five Ardoyne women who have been threatened. She has been living in hiding since she received the threat on Sunday. She thinks that the appearance of her name on a loyalist death list must be a case of mistaken identity. ``That is the only explanation. I'm not in any organisation. I'm not in anything. They have definitely made a mistake,'' she said. She says she does not know how to tell her children, aged between six and eleven, that they cannot go home. McClenaghan said: ``It's my own home. I have a mortgage. I don't know what to do, It's our family home.''
The way in which these threats were delivered by the RUC is being viewed as evidence of the force's contempt for nationalists. Sinn Féin councillor Mick Conlon, who has also been threatened, had a note passed through his door asking him to contact Antrim Road RUC barracks. On the back of this note, the RUC had attached a cartoon strip from the Sun newspaper. Speaking to AP/RN, he said that he had contacted his solicitor at Madden and Finucane, who will pursue the fact that a serious death threat was delivered by the RUC with a cartoon attached to it. He also said he received a similar type of threat from the UDA in November 1996.
Gerry Kelly has blamed the adjournment of the political negotiations for deepening the already existing political vacuum created by unionism. ``Unfortunately, the experience of North Belfast Catholics and nationalists is that loyalism will fill that vacuum with violence,'' he said.
Kelly called on loyalists ``to immediately cease these sectarian attacks'' and also urged Mo Mowlam to intervene in relation to the RUC's policy of supplying only a minimum of information to those it claims are under threat.
RUC treating threats in cavalier manner
Sinn Féin Assembly member and mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness has blasted the RUC for treating threats against republicans in a cavalier manner.
McGuinness made his criticism after members of the RUC arrived at his home on Friday, 2 April, to tell him that his life was in danger. When he asked for more details, however, the RUC would not tell him who had made the threats. The Mid-Ulster MP is now seeking legal advice regarding the RUC's refusal to elaborate on the claims. McGuinness poses the question: ``How can I or anyone else assess the seriousness of such threats if the RUC refuses to divulge the source or nature of its information?''