Denis Bradley, vice chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, and Marion Quinn, a member of the local board in Derry, received bullets and Mass cards in the mail at their homes. The threats follow a reported plot to kill Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, a series of bomb alerts in Belfast and a protest campaign inside Maghaberry Prison. Dissident republicans were also accused of attempting to abduct Progressive Unionist Party politician Billy Hutchinson as he was out jogging in Belfast.
The prison campaign — aimed at removing republicans from cell blocks also housing loyalists — continued this week with a two-day rooftop protest by a small number of prisoners.
In response to the protests, the British government announced a review of the arrangements in the prison. The review will be conducted by a former civil servant and two former prison chaplains — one Catholic and one Protestant.
The threats to Bradley and Quinn appeared to confirm that dissident republicans have gathered information about civilians who have become involved in policing reform. A worker at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital was charged last month with collecting information on more than 100 independent members of the 26 local policing boards, including their medical records.
Bradley, a former priest who was a vital link between the British and the IRA during negotiations that led to the 1994 ceasefire, has been an important figure in demonstrating that Catholics can play an important role in the restructured arrangements for ensuring the Police Service is accountable.
The threat to Quinn was the second incident to hit her family recently. Two weeks ago, a hoax bomb was attached to her daughter’s car at the office of John Hume, the former SDLP party leader.
She said she was shocked and angered by the threats, but said she would not be deterred from working on Derry’s district police partnership.
“I went on to the board feeling I could do some good work for my community on the policing issues affecting them — petty crime, road traffic, anti-social behavior. Nothing has changed,” she said.
“For over 30 years my community cried out for decent, accountable policing. This is the first chance we have had to deliver that.”