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6 February 2003 Edition

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Meehan and others receive death threats

Sinn Féin's Martin Meehan has been told by the PSNI that his life is under threat from the Red Hand Defenders(RHD). The PSNI told the South Antrim councillor that action would be taken against him within 24 hours of the approach.

Meehan was informed of this latest threat after members of the PSNI approached him at a council meeting at Antrim Borough Council offices on Thursday 30 January. The PSNI offered to escort Meehan from the council building but he refused.

Meehan believes the PSNI may have information that unionist paramilitaries were targeting him inside the council offices. He questioned the motives behind the PSNI's offer to escort him from the building.

"I would like to know how the PSNI knew I was in the building," he said. "I change my daily routine because I have been threatened by unionist paramilitaries so many times before. I have been refused a licence for a legally held firearm because of intervention from the PSNI and now they want to escort me from the council offices. It makes you wonder."

Meehan said three other members of South Antrim Sinn Féin had also been threatened. He criticised the PSNI for failing to provide any of them with full details about the threats.

"All the PSNI will tell me is that the threat was from the Red Hand Defenders, which is a cover name for the UDA, and that action would be taken against me within 24 hours," he said.

"My life has been threatened and members of my family have been attacked before by unionist paramilitaries, but I can assure the people of South Antrim these death threats will not deflect me from my resolution to see political progress made.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that in the past week nationalists living in Ardoyne and Short Strand areas of Belfast have also been threatened by the Red Hand Defenders.

A number of people in the Short Strand area were warned by members of the PSNI on Monday 27 January that their personal details had been discovered in the hands of loyalist death squads. And on Thursday 30 January the RHD, using a coded message issued to the BBC, threatened the lives of four nationalists living in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast.

And West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty this week hit out at those behind threats to nationalist construction workers engaged on refurbishment work at Omagh Social Security Office on the Gortin Road in the town.
Speaking on Tuesday, the local MP said: "Two separate threats, purportedly from loyalists, were phoned through to a Social Security office in Derry yesterday and today warning the nationalist workers engaged on refurbishment work at the Omagh Social Security Office would be shot.

"The contractor, concerned for the safety of his workers, has stopped work at the site. The workers at the DHSS office have walked out in protest and at the threats to their fellow workers."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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