Sinn Fein mayor greets royals after loyalist death threat

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Belfast’s new Mayor John Finucane has been warned that loyalists are planning to attack him at his home after the Sinn Féin councillor received the chains of office on Tuesday.

He then had to cope with protests by nationalists as he greeted English royals Charles and Camilla Windsor in his first official function.

The 39-year-old said PSNI came to his house and informed him of the threat later on Tuesday night. He is the same age as his father - the murdered Catholic lawyer, Pat Finucane - was when he was shot dead in front of his family by loyalists during the conflict.

Mr Finucane said the threat was not just to him, but to democracy as well. “I am committed to serving and representing all the people of this city and I will not be deterred from that by threats from anyone,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said the potential attack on Mr Finucane’s family home “was clearly deliberate, given this is where his father was murdered by loyalists”.

“It is a cowardly attempt to intimidate the newly-elected first citizen of Belfast. And while this must be a very traumatic experience for John and his family, I know that he will not be deterred from representing everyone as Ard Mheara [Mayor].”

On Wednesday, Mr Finucane greeted England’s Prince Charles and his wife on a visit to Belfast. Windsor remains Commander-in-Chief of the British Parachute Regiment, who are the subject of an ongoing inquest into the Ballymurphy Masacre.

In the past, some members of Sinn Féin have been reluctant to greet English royalty in Ireland but, before his installation, Mr Finucane said he would have “no difficulty” in doing so and stressed his own mixed background as motivation to be a ‘mayor for all’.

But families and supporters of those killed in shootings involving the parachute protested at the visit. The families staged a protest near Laganside Courts in Belfast, where the inquest is being held, against the royal visit and held placards including one which read “Colonel in Chief of Paras Shame On You”.

John Teggart, a spokesman for the families, read a statement on their behalf during the demonstration.

He said: “Prince Charles is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment and he must take full responsibility for the actions of his troops.

“We think that the timing of this visit is very insensitive given the evidence of mass murder and sheer brutality being described in court by witnesses over the past months.

“Charles should know the hurt families like ourselves are going though at this present time. This hurt is not restricted to us; we know that other families suffer as we do.”

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