24 June 1999 Edition

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Firearm for Sinn Féin councillor

By Caitlin Doherty

Sinn Féin councillor James McCarry has been living for years in permanent threat of loyalist death squad attacks. Every incident and attack has been documented. Yet it is only now that the British government has decided to issue the Sinn Féin elected representative with a legal firearm.

British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam effectively overturned the 80-year ban on Sinn Féin carrying legal weapons. She reversed a decision by the RUC barring Ballycastle councillor James McCarry from carrying a firearm to protect himself against an intensified campaign of loyalist murder bids. He is the first Sinn Féin member to ever be issued with a firearms certificate.

In the past months McCarry has been the target of a campaign of murder bids. The campaign intensified during the Sinn Féin electoral campaign last month in tandem with the loyalist terror campaign on hundreds of nationalists in the Six Counties.

``Obviously Mo Mowlam recognises the risks that some councillors are forced to live under just because of their politics. But is it not amazing that it is now, during the peace process, that the British government recognises the need for Sinn Fein members to be able to protect themselves and their families?'' he asked.

James McCarry has been a constant target since his election to Moyle council in 1989.

Last Friday, he received a phone call from the UVF and last week, when the Parades Commission announced restrictions on a loyalist parade through Ballycastle, a group of 40 loyalists, including masked men, picketed the Sinn Féin man's home. The organisation warned him that he would be shot dead by the end of the summer. ``I've had to live with these threats for years,'' he said.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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