Northern Ireland

Naomi Long: 'Death threat' against Alliance party MP

The Alliance party MP threatened with death has called for "mature political leadership from those who whipped up tensions" in Belfast this week.

Naomi Long received the threat following loyalist outrage at a council decision to limit the flying of the union flag at the City Hall.

The flag had been flown every day but is now flown on designated days.

On Wednesday, an Alliance party office was destroyed and the home of two councillors attacked.

The party said that Ms Long, who is also her party's deputy leader, was warned by police in the early hours of Friday to leave her home and go to her constituency office.

A Sinn Fein councillor on Belfast City Council, Jim McVeigh, has confirmed he has also received a death threat.

Earlier this week, Alliance, Sinn Fein and SDLP councillors voted to limit the flying of the flag while the DUP and Ulster Unionists opposed the move.

'Not deterred'

Speaking at Stormont on Friday, Ms Long said: "I will not let that threat deter me from serving my constituents. I will not let it influence decisions that my party takes.

"We will take our decisions based on principles, based on furthering our beliefs and objectives in delivering a shared future and we will not be deterred from that by violent people.

"We need mature political leadership from those who, over this week, have been whipping up tensions, stirring up dissension and pointing fingers of blame at people on these issues.

"That is not without consequence. People need to stand up now and say that violence is wrong and they need to defuse this situation and allow Northern Ireland to go forward as it should."

Earlier in the week threats were also made against Alliance councillor Laura McNamee and Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly.

A police spokesperson said the PSNI did not comment on an individuals security but said any reports of threats that had been made against any member of the public would be investigated.

First Minister Peter Robinson has condemned those responsible for issuing a death threat against Naomi Long.

'Sinister motives'

"Such threats are an affront to democracy and an attack on us all. As someone who in the past has been visited many times by the police to be told of death threats issued against me, I know how difficult and testing a time this is," he said.

"My thoughts and prayers are very much with Naomi at this time and I would call upon all concerned not to allow themselves be used by those who have very sinister motives. Regardless of political difference, public representatives should not be attacked or threatened in any way."

The Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has also condemned the threats

"The death threat against the East Belfast MP Naomi Long is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms and needs to be withdrawn immediately.

"This is the work of fascists who cannot accept the democratic decision of Belfast City Council," he said.

"Threats remain against Alliance councillor Laura McNamee, Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly and councillor Jim McVeigh. Each and everyone of these threats must be lifted."

There have been protests since Monday when Belfast City Council voted to fly the union flag on designated days only.

Nationalists at Belfast City Council had wanted the union flag taken down altogether, but in the end voted on a compromise from the Alliance party that it would fly on designated days.

The vote was 29 to 21, with unionists accusing Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance of attacking their cultural identity.

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