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Republican gets 'death threat'

Alex Maskey said the police had visited Sean Hayes

A former Sinn Fein councillor has been told of a loyalist death threat by the police, the party has said.

Sean Hayes was told that he and three other republicans had been threatened by the paramilitary Red Hand Defenders, according to South Belfast assemblyman Alex Maskey.

The Red Hand Defenders is a cover name used by the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The police said they did not discuss personal security.

Mr Maskey said: "Sean Hayes was visited late last night by the PSNI who informed him that his name, along with that of three other republicans in Belfast, Dungannon and Warrenpoint, were issued with death threats.

"The PSNI informed Sean that the threat was from the Red Hand Defenders and was accompanied by a recognised code word. He was informed that he would be killed within 48 hours."

Last Monday, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said the UDA ceasefire was "holding" and "genuine".

Mr Murphy made the comments as he explained his decision to give recognition to the loyalist paramilitary group's cessation of violence, which came into effect on 14 November.

Mr Maskey said: "It is deeply concerning that this UDA cover name has once again resurfaced only a week after the British secretary of state proclaimed that the UDA was on cessation once again."

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