Republican News · Thursday 13 April 2000

[An Phoblacht]

ti-drugs activist threatened


anti-drugs activist who received a bullet in a hand-delivered card believes it came from a drug dealer connected with loyalists.

John Letters, from the Springfarm Estate in Antrim Town, received the sympathy card at his home on Wednesday 5 April. It contained a 9mm bullet and the words ``Touts out. 48 hours or else.''

Letters told An Phoblacht that the drugs problem had become increasingly worse in the Springfarm area since some young people moved into the estate recently. He confronted the drug dealer, who pays protection money to loyalist paramilitaries and whom he suspects is behind the threat to his life. He believes this threat is not only directed at him but is part of a wider campaign by loyalists to drive Catholics out of the area.

In a further development, in the early hours of Sunday 10 April, Letters had all four tyres of his car slashed. A neighbour was attacked by the drug dealer who was wielding a knife, and received several lacerations to his neck.

Speaking to An Phoblacht on Tuesday, it was clear that the men and their families were visibly shaken, and both said they will leave their Springfarm homes where they have lived for more than 10 years. Both, however agreed to reconsider their decisions following a discussion with Sinn Féin representatives from the area Martin Meehan and Martin McManus. The Sinn Féin representatives were accompanied by Kevin Vernon, the party's candidate in a forthcoming election in the South Antrim area.

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