A Northern Ireland Councillor is threatened again. This time with a bullet in the post.

A loyalist mural in Northern Ireland
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

The Royal Mail recently intercepted a bullet at one of its sorting offices, posted to independent councillor Padraig McShane. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) contacted McShane and told him to increase his security. But this is not the first such threatening incident targeting the independent republican councillor.

A fellow independent councillor in Northern Ireland has called on councils to:

review the security of the elected representatives

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McShane’s solicitor, Michael Brentnall, told The Canary that the PSNI don’t know who sent the bullet, but inquiries are underway.

Previous incidences

This is not the first such attack against McShane. He told The Canary that his name, along with others, appeared on a list with bullets attached in 2007. The list was found in an employee locker at a local business.

In July 2014, he received a letter, apparently sent by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), warning Catholic residents against collecting benefits at a nearby dole office.

Later that month, he was directly threatened when his name appeared on a loyalist bonfire, prior to the 12 July Orange Order parades. The words “Padraig McShane dead man” appeared on an Irish tricolour placed on the bonfire.

Three months after the threat, in October 2014, there was an arson attack on his family home. Fortunately, both he and his family were safe but they moved out. Nobody has been charged with this incident.

Councillor McShane speaks out

Since topping the polls at local elections in May 2011, McShane has never been afraid to speak out. One week before the bonfire death threat, he spoke out against hardline loyalists placing a British flag outside a Catholic church. They also painted the church gates and kerbstones red, white and blue. McShane claimed the PSNI failed to intervene as loyalists erected this flag.

In June 2015, McShane received a three-month suspension from council duties. He placed a Palestinian and Irish flag in council headquarters to welcome Gaza official Mohamed Al-Halabi. In April this year, he declared he intends appealing this under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He believes in the right to express political opinion and free speech.

On 12 July 2016, McShane acted as an observer at an Orange Order march through the mainly Catholic town of Ballycastle. This is a town McShane represents as councillor. After being taunted by participants on the march, McShane became embroiled in an altercation involving the PSNI, and he was subsequently arrested. The PSNI lead him away with blood dripping from his scalp.

Post Good Friday Agreement shared future

The Good Friday Agreement brought the conflict in the north to an end over 20 years ago. Yet acts of intimidation against elected republican representatives appear to go unpunished.

If there is to be a shared and equal future in Ireland, it has to begin with figures in authority and community leaders seriously tackling ugly sectarianism.

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Featured image via Flickr/Robert Young

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