Clarke Says Alliance Will Pursue Mission Despite Death Threats
THE Alliance Party has come under pressure from militant loyalists following the decision at Belfast City Council on Monday to fly the Union Jack only 20 days a year in line with other UK bodies of a similar public and political nature.
Death threats have now been issued to party members and the East Belfast MP Naomi Long who has had to move from her home after her office came under attack and her life was threatened.
Speaking on the Nolan show this morning, Naomi Long said she was determined to ensure her East Belfast constituency continued to be served by Alliance despite the threats.
Violence and protests have erupted across the Province and in County Down, Down District Councillor Patrick Clarke, who sits on the Alliance executive, has also been advised by local police to take measures to protect his personal safety.
A letter bomb was discovered inside a post box in Clough on the Dundrum Road and has been described as potentially lethal by police.
The device was discovered on Thursday evening ((6 December) around 9pm. Suspicious activity at the post box had been reported to the police. Immediately, an ATO team were dispatched to deal with the potential bomb at the Dundrum Road post box. The device was subsequently disarmed and was removed for forensic investigation.
Mr Clarke said: “I was advised mid-week by the Newcastle police that a threat had been issued to the Alliance Party representatives. We have taken this advice seriously. It is a very difficult time for the Alliance Party. I feel for my colleagues in the more troubled areas who are under great pressure.
“East Belfast MP Naomi Long has had her life threatened but has shown great courage in facing up to all of this. The threats won’t deflect Alliance from its mission in trying to create a shared society. All we are trying to do is move the political agenda forward so everyone in Northern Ireland can enjoy a shared future.
“It is very sad that our members have been targeted and that violence has been directed towards our constituency offices. On a day when Hilary Clinton is visiting Northern Ireland, I just wish we could have presented a better side of Northern Ireland to the world.
“Our party will continue on its mission and will not be deflected by the threats and violence”.
Detectives are appealing to anyone who noticed suspicious activity in the area or who has any information to contact them at the North Queen Street station. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Political Community Rallies
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has said people’s focus needs to return to the substantial issues affecting society, such as jobs, health and education, and desist from violence, threats and intimidation.
Ms Ritchie was speaking as police uncovered the viable letter bomb device at Dundrum Road, Clough, on Thursday night.
She said: “I condemn this attempt to either maim or kill. This activity and others like it have to stop. Everyone thought we were entering a new phase of politics and life in 1998 and left this sort of thing to the past where it belongs.
“It is now time people stepped up to the plate and renounced violence of all kinds and showed not only respect to all kinds of political difference but respect to health and life.
“We cannot afford to lose focus and return to concentrating on violence, threat and intimidation.”
And UKIP Down District representative Alan Lewis also condemned the letter bomb incident as “wreckless” He said: “Those who abandoned an explosive device of this nature are highly irresponsible and dangerous,
“I am also relieved that no innocent party was injured. The PSNI now need to make public the destination of this device and there is a need for the organisation that planted this letter bomb to come forward and explain their reasoning for trying to kill people.
“I am mindful of the current threat poised by so called dissident republicans and also of the surging anger within loyalist circles.”