Sinn Féin's Michelle O’Neill and Gerry Kelly were targeted by dissident republicans, according to intelligence gathered by the PSNI
Sinn Féin party members Michelle O’Neill and Gerry Kelly have responded after PSNI revealed intelligence that indicated they were the target of an attack from dissident republicans.
O’Neill, Sinn Féin's vice president and first deputy of Northern Ireland, shared the below video on Twitter on February 11 in response to the intelligence provided by PSNI:
I have been told that dissident republicans are planning attacks on myself and Gerry Kelly
This threat comes as over 500,000 people voted Sinn Féin
These people have no politics or strategy
Sinn Féin will not be deterred. We will continue to pursue our objective of Irish unity pic.twitter.com/L7tqBcf0n9— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) February 11, 2020
Standing alongside MLA Gerry Kelly, O’Neill said: “I have been told by the PSNI that dissident republicans are planning an attack against myself and Gerry Kelly.
“The backdrop to all of this is of course that over 500,000 people have voted for Sinn Fein, voted for change, voted for Irish unity in the recent elections.
“These people have nothing to offer society. These people have clearly an intent to attack myself, and Gerry, our families.
“We are also aware that this comes on the back of both myself and Gerry attending the PSNI recruitment fare last week.
“So let me be very clear: dissident republicans have no strategy, they have no plan, they have no progress towards Irish unity.
“I have two children, I have a mother who will be very worried. Gerry has family who will also be very worried. So we have to protect our families.
“But we have a job to do. We’re elected, we have a mandate. This intelligence comes at a time where we have a backdrop where we’ve never been closer to Irish unity.
“I want to bring about a unified Ireland, one which has civic policing at its core. One that has a representative policing service.
“I will not be deterred, Gerry Kelly will not be deterred, and Sinn Féin will not be deterred in trying to build a better society.”
O’Neill added in a statement: “We will continue to pursue our objective of a united Ireland while building a civic, accountable representative policing service, which polices with the community.
“These armed groups have nothing to offer. It’s time they packed up and disbanded.”
In response to the reported threats against O’Neill and Kelly, DUP president Arlene Foster said in a statement: “We live in a democracy. The ballot box is how we effect change, not through the bomb or bullet.
“Whether in 1970, 1980, 1990 or 2020, violence from every hue must be condemned. There is no place for threats or violence.”
Additionally, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood tweeted:
Those behind it are setting themselves against the Irish people and they will never win. My thoughts are with Michelle, Gerry and their families today.— Colum Eastwood (@columeastwood) February 11, 2020
Last week, O’Neill and Kelly, along with fellow Sinn Fein members Linda Dillon and Philip McGuigan, made an appearance at the PSNI’s recruitment fair that was hosted in Garnerville.
I look forward to the day when the PSNI is reflective of all the community that it serves.
Nationalists, Women, LGBTQ+ and ethnic minorities are all under-represented and this needs to be addressed as a priority for the Chief Constable, the policing board and political leaders. pic.twitter.com/p2gt90r41a— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) February 4, 2020
Praising their “last-minute” decision to attend, PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne said: “I think it is seismic and historic in terms of the history of the PSNI and the commitment we have heard from Sinn Féin today.”
Byrne said he hopes that Sinn Féin's attendance at the fair would help drive up Catholic recruitment in the PSNI. “We have called for that support in the past,” Byrne said. “Now people have stood up to that challenge and have stepped forward and are encouraging people to join the PSNI. So I think it is an historic day, not just for policing, but for Northern Ireland.”
O’Neill told reporters at the fair: “I want to be here.”
Noting that it’s “no secret” that Catholics and nationalists are under-represented in the PSNI, O’Neill said: “If we are going to have a police service that commands community confidence then it needs to be reflective of the community that it serves. So we are here because of that reason.”
Over the weekend, Sinn Féin enjoyed great success in Ireland’s General Election, where they emerged as the most popular political party, clinching about a quarter of the overall vote.