Sinn Féin has challenged unionist paramilitaries in the North to come clean following the discovery of a new hit list of republican murder targets.

Party chief negotiator Martin McGuinness demanded urgent clarification after PSNI police delivered warnings to nationalists in Derry City, south Derry and north Antrim.

During overnight visits, they were told their details had come into the hands of the UVF.

The warnings came after the arrest at the Wrightbus bus company in Ballymena of a suspected UVF hitman found to be in possession of ammunition and the personal details of a number of republicans. Darren Richardson, a manager at Wrightbus, appeared in court on Friday.

“It is completely unacceptable that people’s personal details have turned up in UVF hands and that numerous people are now frightened and disturbed by these revelations,” Mr McGuinness said.

“Given the fact that the UVF is the unionist paramilitary gang linked to these threats then it is now over to that organisation and the Progressive Unionist Party [which politically represents the UVF] to make urgent statements explaining this turn of events and making it clear what threats exist or don’t exist.”

Local Sinn Féin representative Daithi McKay said it was “unacceptable” that unionist paramilitaries continue to target republicans.

“None of the unionist paramilitaries have yet to engage in any constructive fashion with the IICD. All are still engaged in widespread criminality including drug dealing and extortion. All of this needs to end and needs to end now.”

Mr McKay also said there had been many cases in this area in the past where unionist paramilitaries had only been given a judicial ‘slap on the wrists’ for possessing ammunition and firearms.

“There has to be much tougher sentencing for those involved in this if loyalists are to be deterred from this sort of activity in the future,” he said

“The time of loyalists ‘being handled with kid gloves’ must now come to an end and all parties, including the Irish Government, must use their influence to tackle inequality and sectarianism in North Antrim.”

McKay added that his party had also recently challenged the Dublin government to exert pressure on Wrightbus over the under-representation of Catholics in the workplace.

The major northern bus builder last week won a multi million pound order from the Irish State bus company, Bus Eireann.

“Given these latest revelations it is quite clear why Wrightbus is a ‘cold house’ for many from the nationalist community and the Irish Government should call an emergency meeting with the company to address this problem once and for all.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News