Tension in north-west following threats

A brick and a package containing three bullets were thrown through Sinn Féin offices in County Fermanagh last week. The same offices were badly damaged in a suspected arson last month.

A note claiming to be from the unionist paramilitary ‘Red Hand Defenders’ threatening three party members was also attached to the brick thrown into the Lisnaskea office.

Sinn Féin councillor Thomas O’Reilly said the threats were very worrying.

“Less than two weeks ago the offices in Lisnaskea were badly damaged in a fire and now there is this threat against a three named individuals and the wider nationalist republican community in this area,” he said.

“There is a clear responsibility on local politicians, community and church leaders to use their influence within the unionist/loyalist community to come out against all sectarian threats or attacks. They must use their influence to have these threats lifted and to challenge sectarian attitudes within the community they represent.”

The same group, composed of members of the Ulster Defence Association and Loyalist Volunteer Force, claimed the murder of Rosemary Nelson in 1999.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty has held what he described as a ‘robust exchange’ with PSNI police commanders regarding policing and loyalist parades in the nearby village of Castlederg in County Tyrone. A major loyalist band parade is due to take place in the town on Saturday night.

Mr Doherty said, “Not only do people have to undergo the indignity of being hemmed in for hours on end by large numbers of PSNI but local nationalists also point to the many examples of how the PSNI have acted in a partisan manner whenever any trouble has occurred during or after these parades. We also highlighted local nationalist concerns which question the impartiality of policing in the town in general.”

The SF assembly member led a delegation to meet with the PSNI in Castlederg on Tuesday afternoon. Representing the PSNI were Area Commander Chief Inspector Phil Marks along with two other senior officers.

Mr Doherty said, “We brought to them the grievances of the nationalist people in Castlederg. It was a very intense meeting and we put across our points in a forthright and robust manner.”

Regarding the major parade on Saturday night, he said, “There is also genuine concern in Castlederg about the scale and nature of the events being organised by the Castlederg Young Loyalist Flute Band. It has applied to bring 96 bands and some 3385 participants into the town and filed to march throughout the town including through predominantly nationalist areas.”

Mr Doherty called on the Parades Commission “to begin to acknowledge the detrimental impact upon community relations that the frequency and nature of Loyalist and Loyal Order Parades are having in Castlederg. Saturday night’s parade will be the 19th such parade in Castlederg since the July 1.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News