London/Belfast – Northern Ireland’s deputy leader and top Sinn Fein party politician Martin McGuinness revealed Friday that he had received a death threat from dissident republican groups opposed to the party’s participation in government in the province.
McGuinness, 58, a former high-profile member of the now inactive Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary organization, said police had informed him of the threat in the past 24 hours.
McGuinness, who holds the post of deputy first minister in the regional power-sharing government between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, said he would not be deterred from continuing his efforts to build peace.
“I have spent my entire adult life engaged in the republican struggle to bring about Irish unity and independence. Throughout that time there have been numerous attempts made to silence me and stop me going about my republican work,” he said.
However, in the past such warnings had come from “a variety of British state agencies and their surrogates” in Protestant paramilitary groups, he said, underlining the novelty of such a threat emanating from within the republican movement.
Tension between Sinn Fein and dissident groups has risen since the murder of two British soldiers and a police officer in Northern Ireland in early March, for which small breakaway republican groups have claimed responsibility.
McGuinness, in his condemnation of the attacks at the time, accused the perpetrators of being “traitors to the island of Ireland.”
The attackers had “betrayed the desires and political aspirations of all the people who live on this island and they don’t deserve to be supported by anyone,” he said.
The remarks have since been publicly denounced by representatives of the dissident factions. (dpa)