UK & World News
Belfast Protests: DUP MP Receives Death Threat
A second Northern Ireland MP has been told his life is in danger amid increasing unrest over the decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag on Belfast City Hall.
Jeffrey Donaldson, the Democratic Unionist MP for Lagan Valley, said the police told him unnamed individuals had threatened to shoot him, his wife and children.
"Whatever they may think of my politics as a Unionist and someone who is proud to be British, it is beyond belief that people would target my wife and children in this way," he said.
Edwin Poots, a health minister in Northern Ireland's power-sharing government who was also threatened, blamed dissident republicans angered by his criticism of the decision to reduce the number of days the flag was flown to just 17.
"It is not something that is new to them but it is something we will resist," he said.
The latest threats came as loyalist protests closed a number of roads in north Belfast.
Last week, East Belfast MP Naomi Long was her life could also be in danger after her non-sectarian Alliance Party cast the crucial vote to cut the number of days the flag was flown.
A gang of 15 men threw a petrol bomb into an unmarked police car outside her offices on Newlands Road on Monday night.
Mrs Long said the protests were not loyalism but fascism.
"This has taken on the dynamics of a pogrom against the Alliance party," she said.
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said all threats against democratically elected representatives should be withdrawn immediately.
"There is no justification for this type of intimidation from any grouping or organisation," he said.
In a statement to the House of Commons earlier, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said that while the flag issue was sensitive, the violence would not be tolerated.
"There can be absolutely no excuse or justification for this kind of thuggish and lawless behaviour," she said.
"It is a disgrace. We condemn it unreservedly and it should stop immediately.
"...Those people engaged in the kind of violence we have seen in the past few days are not defending the Union flag. They are dishonouring and shaming the flag of our country.
"There is nothing remotely British about what they are doing. They discredit the cause that they claim to support."
Police Service Of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said the officer in the car that was attacked was lucky to escape with her life.
"This was a planned attempt to kill a police officer which also put the lives of the public in danger and it is fortunate there were no injuries," he said.
Officers were also attacked with petrol bombs in south Belfast close to the M1.
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said some of the violence was intense - and there was clearly some paramilitary involvement.
:: Witnesses have been urged to contact police at Strandtown on 0845 600 8000 or through the confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111.