Northern Ireland

Timeline of attacks on Northern Ireland political parties

There has been a series of death threats and attacks against members of several political parties in Northern Ireland, following a controversial vote over the union flag.

3 December 2012

Image caption Following the vote, rioting erupted among loyalists who staged a protest outside

Belfast City Council votes to change its policy of flying the union flag at Belfast City Hall all year round.

Nationalist councillors want the flag removed completely but they back a compromise motion - proposed by the Alliance party - to fly the flag on designated days only, such as royal birthdays.

Within minutes of the vote, rioting erupts among loyalists who have staged a protest outside the building.

Some protesters attempt to force their way inside, smashing a window and attacking councillors' cars parked in the grounds of the building, including a vehicle belonging to DUP councillor, Guy Spence.

4 December 2012

Image caption Alliance Party offices were targeted

Alliance councillor for east Belfast, Laura McNamee, confirms she has moved out of her home as a result of internet threats, amid controversy over the council's vote on union flag policy. A threat was posted to her Facebook page and she was advised by police not to return home.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly also said he had received a death threat through Sinn Fein's North Belfast constituency office on the Antrim Road.

5 December 2012

Image caption Christine Bower with 17-month-old Grace look out from their home in Innisfayle Avenue after it was attacked

A loyalist mob sets fire to an Alliance Party office in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, destroying the building.

There is also an attempted arson at the constituency office of Alliance minister, Stephen Farry in Bangor, County Down.

The home of a couple who are both Alliance Party councillors in Bangor is attacked. Paint is thrown at Michael and Christine Bower's home, smashing a front window close to where their infant daughter normally plays.

7 December 2012

Image caption The Alliance party's deputy leader, East Belfast MP Naomi Long says there has been a death threat against her during a press conference at Stormont

A death threat is issued against the Alliance MP for east Belfast, Naomi Long. She describes it as a "wanton attack on the democratic process".

A Sinn Fein councillor on Belfast City Council, Jim McVeigh, confirms he has also received a death threat.

The home of an Alliance party councillor in County Down is attacked overnight. Windows are smashed and a car also damaged at Linda Cleland's house in Newtownards.

10 December 2012

Image caption A police patrol car was attacked in east Belfast

There is an attempt to murder a policewoman as she guards Ms Long's Alliance party office in east Belfast. She is sitting in car outside the office when a gang of men smash the window and throw a petrol bomb into the vehicle while she is still inside. The officer escapes without injury.

Police reveal that to date, 29 police officers have been injured in loyalist protests and 38 people have been arrested.

11 December 2012

Image caption Loyalists Protest near Mount Vernon estate, on the Shore Road in Belfast

The DUP says two senior members of the party - Jeffrey Donaldson and Edwin Poots - have been warned of death threats against them.

Mr Donaldson said those behind it threatened to shoot them both, along with their wives and children. Mr Poots said he believed the threat was from dissident republicans.

In County Londonderry, a SDLP sign is vandalised and a union flag is erected outside the Limavady office of SDLP East Derry MLA, John Dallat.

12 December 2012

Image caption Loyalists Protest on the Shankill Road in Belfast

A death threat is made against the DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson.

13 December 2012

Image caption Darren Scott arrives in Police custody at Newtonards Court

Darren Scott, an unemployed man from east Belfast, appears in court charged over the death threat against Mr Robinson.

It is alleged in the court that the 34-year-old drank 12 pints of cider before making the threat in a 999 call.

The SDLP MLA for south Belfast, Conall McDevitt, and Belfast DUP councillor, Guy Spence, both receive death threats.

A DUP constituency office in Richhill, County Armagh, is vandalised.

Newry and Armagh MLA William Irwin says the windows of the building have been smashed and paint has been daubed on the walls.

14 December 2012

It emerges that the Alliance Mayor of Larne has been forced to spend two nights away from her own home on police advice.

There were concerns that a protest could be held outside Gerardine Mulvenna's house.

She appealed for the protestors to stop and said she was prepared to talk to them.

Sinn Fein's Belfast City Council group leader Jim McVeigh received a second death threat.

He said that it had been made in a telephone call to a media outlet.

"Those behind the threats to myself and other elected representatives cannot stop democracy nor will they," he said.

"Belfast is a changing city and that change will not be halted by these threats."

7 January 2013

Image caption Patsy McGlone said whoever sent the package were "faceless fascists"

A letter intended for SDLP politician Patsy McGlone contained a bullet and a sympathy card.

A package, containing his name and picture, was intercepted at the Royal Mail sorting office in Mallusk.

The Mid-Ulster assembly member said whoever sent the sinister threat were "faceless fascists".

"This is obviously not something that is a pleasant experience, for me or my family, however, those who sent it will not put me off doing my job, that is representing the people of Mid-Ulster." said Mr McGlone.

"I would like to pay tribute to the staff at the Post Office and the PSNI for their professionalism and vigilance in dealing with this matter."

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said a letter containing a bullet had been addressed to a Belfast-based newspaper reporter.

The NUJ said it was intercepted by the PSNI and was sent following the journalist's reporting of the loyalist rioting.

NUJ president Barry McCall said it was "a despicable attempt to intimidate journalists working in extremely difficult circumstances".