POLICE PROBE DEATH THREAT TO PUP WEBSITE DESIGNER, SAYS PARTY

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson

THE PSNI is investigating a death threat linked to the Progressive Unionist Party.

The PUP, led by former Belfast City councillor and MLA Billy Hutchinson, said a death threat has been issued against its website designer and his family on Wednesday.

Condeming the threat, the PUP said: “Our members & community people who work for the PUP will not be deterred by death threats from fascist elements with society.”

The party is currently in discussions with lawyers about mounting a legal challenge to a decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union flag on only 17 designated days.

Mr Hutchinson said that it his party’s view the council decision was “unlawful” and a judicial review may be sought in the High Court.

Earlier, detectives launched and investigation after bullets sent in the post to five Northern Ireland politicians.

The letters containing the live rounds were intercepted by security staff at Stormont Buildings on Wednesday.

Sinn Fein said letters addressed to Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey had been sent to Stormont.

The Alliance Party said bullets had also been sent to party leader David Ford, Naomi Long and Geraldine Mulvenna.

An assembly spokesperson said: “A package was delivered to Parliament Buildings on Wednesday and intercepted by security staff.

“In line with standard procedures, the package has been passed to the PSNI.”

Police said they were currently dealing with a number of suspicious packages which had been located in the post room of Stormont.

Mr Ford said the bullets arrived in envelopes addressed to the individual MLAs and did not contain written threats.

“Every individual in political life needs to examine what they are doing, the words that they are using and whether the things that they are saying could be contributing to creating this difficult atmosphere,” he said.

“People are now taking action way beyond anything that may have been expected to arise from a democratic decision of a local council.”

Mr Kelly, who said he had received a death threat through Sinn Fein’s North Belfast constituency office on the Antrim Road at the beginning of December, said the live bullets sent to MLAs was a step up in the attempt to intimidate elected representatives.

“This will not deflect Sinn Fein from our work of seeking parity of esteem when it comes to reflecting people’s Irishness and Britishness,” he said.

“There were no violent protests in Lisburn and elsewhere when the decision to go for designated days had the support of unionists.

“Obviously protesters have been wound up prior to the decision in Belfast and those that have kept up the tension need to reflect on what they have created.”

Both Sinn Fein and the Alliance Party have felt the full force of loyalist anger after Belfast City Council decided to only fly the Union flag on 17 designated days the City Hall.

An Alliance office in Carrickfergus was ransacked and then sent on fire. The home of an Alliance councillor couple was hit with two paint bombs in Bangor and an attempt was made to burn the Bangor constituency office of Alliance MLA Stephen Farry.

Alliance councillor in Belfast Laura McNamee and the party’s east Belfast MP Naomi Long were both advised to leave their homes over death threats.

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