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27 April 2000 Edition

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New York presses RUC on death lists

The members of New York City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday, 25 April, calling on the RUC to divulge pertinent security information to those Sinn Féin councillors whose names have been recently discovered on loyalist death lists.

The RUC routinely refuse to give details to republicans and nationalists facing assassination, including the identity of the group making the threat. The motion makes reference to allegations of collusion between loyalists and the RUC in the killings of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson and calls on Direct Ruler Peter Mandelson to advocate the release of the information and to support putting those targeted on the Key Persons Priotection Scheme.

A press conference will be held today, Thursday 27 April, at New York's City Hall, where council members will show concern and solidarity with their fellow elected officials who have been targeted.

Sinn Féin's Michael Ferguson, a member of Lisburn Borough Council and one of those under threat, will attend, along with West Tyrone Assembly member Pat Doherty. Numerous New York elected representatives will attend, including the Speaker of the City Council, Peter Vallone, and Alan Hevesi, New York City Comptroller. Leaders from the Irish-American community will also attend. It is hoped that New York will be the first of many American elected bodies to pass similar motions.

The full motion reads:

``Whereas, on Thursday evening, 6 April 2000, the entire Sinn Féin party membership on the Belfast City Council and the Lisburn Borough Council as well as other Sinn Féin political figures were advised by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the police force of Northern Ireland, that they were the targets of death threats made by paramilitary loyalists and were being actively stalked: and

``Whereas the serious nature of the threats has led Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams to warn all party members `to be extremely vigilant and careful', stating that he was `concerned at what appears to be a widespread, concerted threat from loyalist groups directed at Sinn Féin councillors, nationalist lawyers and ordinary citizens', according to the BBC News: and

``Whereas, considering the nature of the politically motivated death threats within the context of the extremely volatile political situation in Northern Ireland, the RUC needs to divulge all pertinent information regarding the highly individual threats to all persons targeted in order to protect their safety and their families' safety: and

``Whereas, allegedly, the RUC has chosen to reveal only the bare minimum facts regarding the death threats to the targeted 13 members of the Belfast City Council, the four members of the Lisburn Borough Council, the two members of the Craigavon Council, one member of the Upper Bann Assembly and one former member of the Derry City Council: and

``Whereas, additionally, according to sources, all targeted council members and Sinn Féin politicians have been denied access to the Key Persons Protection Scheme with the exception of one Belfast council member who has been under its protection for one year after several attempts were made on his life by loyalist paramilitaries; the scheme is a government programme that provides special security protection for elected officials and other public figures who are in great personal danger: and

``Whereas, unfortunately, this refusal to divulge pertinent information such as which paramilitary loyalist organisation has issued the threats or whether the organisation is a major, highly organised group or a small splinter group, follows a pattern of RUC reluctance to grant basic rights to Sinn Féin party members and nationalist supporters who receive loyalist threats: and

``Whereas, during the period of 1989 to 1993, a total of 13 Sinn Féin members, including three elected council members, were killed by paramilitary loyalists: and

``Whereas, allegations of collusion between the RUC and loyalist paramilitary groups have already surfaced in regard to the assassinations of nationalist lawyers Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson and it is imperitive that every step be taken to avoid any such tragedy from ever occurring again: and

``Whereas, by denying the targeted parties access to potentially life-saving information, they are being denied their basic rights to know the details of the threats made against them and it is simply unacceptable and irresponsible that the RUC not divulge this critical information: and

``Whereas Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson should immediately issue a statement in support of divulging all pertinent information to the targeted council members and nationalist supporters and he should call for all of these members to be placed under the immediate protection of the Key Persons Protection Scheme: now

``Therefore, be it resolved, that the Council of the City of New York calls upon the Royal Ulster Constabulary to divulge pertinent security information to the 13 Belfast City Council members, four Lisburn Borough Council members and other Sinn Féin political figures that were issued death threats from loyalist paramilitaries.''


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