N.Ireland lawmakers receive death threats

12th December 2012, Comments 0 comments

A second Northern Ireland lawmaker received a death threat on Tuesday as tensions continued to mount over the Belfast city council's decision not to fly the British flag all year round.

Democratic Unionist Party member Jeffrey Donaldson was told by police that he, his family and a DUP minister in Northern Ireland's power-sharing government had been threatened.

"Police this morning received a serious threat to the effect that myself, my wife and children and my colleague Edwin Poots, his wife and children would be shot, and the police are treating this threat very seriously," said Donaldson.

"Whatever they may think of my politics as a unionist and someone who is proud to be British, it is beyond belief that people would target my wife and children in this way," he added.

"I won't be intimidated by these threats, just as I have not been intimidated by such threats in the past, but this is the first time my family has been threatened in this way."

Rioters on Monday threw petrol bombs at police on the Upper Newtownards Road near the offices of the east Belfast lawmaker Naomi Long, a member of the non-sectarian Alliance Party who has also been warned her life is under threat.

Police said they were treating the attack as attempted murder.

Tensions have risen in the British province since councillors voted on December 3 to limit the number of days the Union Jack can fly over the City Hall to 17, outraging loyalists who believe Northern Ireland should retain strong links to Britain.

Loyalists have held nightly protests in several parts of Northern Ireland since the ruling.

Some 3,500 people died in the three decades of violence between Northern Irish Protestants favouring continued union with Britain and Catholics seeking a unified Ireland.

A 1998 peace agreement largely ended the conflict, but sporadic unrest and bomb threats continue as dissident offshoots remain violently opposed to the power-sharing government in Belfast, formed of Catholic and Protestant parties.

© 2012 AFP

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