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Divisive gold mine issue turns sinister

THREE prominent members of anti-gold mining groups in Greencastle have been warned by police that death threats have been made against them.

The sinister development follows an alleged assault in the village on Sunday evening.  This incident is also being investigated by police.

Three men were visited by the PSNI earlier this week and issued with advice on increasing their personal security, including checking their vehicles for explosive devices and erecting CCTV.

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It is unknown whether the threats – which are understood to also warn of ‘repercussions’ – were made by an individual, group or organisation.

One of the three who received a threat is Cormac McAleer, the chairman of the Save Our Sperrins group.

The Ulster Herald has also spoken to the other two men, who have asked not to be identified because of fears for their safety.

Mr McAleer said that he had been “taken aback” by the development which he described as a “worrying escalation”.

“The fact that the police have not told us who is responsible for these death threats has left us very concerned.

We simply don’t know what someone might be capable of or liable to do on us,” he said.

“Fortunately, I have a grown up family. I’m dispensable but there will be others who will take my place in the campaign against gold mining in the Sperrins if anything happens to me.

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“This is really nasty stuff to be happening in a small rural community.”

A second man, who is the father of young children and also lives in Greencastle, said he and his wife had already been maintaining an all-night vigil to ensure that their home is not attacked.

He said that in the past year their property had been strewn with broken eggs and an attempt had been made to smash the windows of the couple’s family home.

“I have been forced to stop working because of what’s happening here. People simply don’t realise or understand the seriousness of our situation. It’s becoming very, very dangerous,” he said.

“The PSNI have told me how to check under my car and around the house for explosive devices. They’ve also given us advice on security cameras.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said that they did not discuss the security of individuals.

They added, “However, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk, we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk.”

Fermanagh and Omagh Sinn Féin councillor, Sean Clarke, has appealed for calm in Greencastle.

“The death threats and the alleged assault in Greencastle on Sunday night must be condemned,” he said.

“There are a lot of differing opinions on the issue of gold mining but people, including workers must be allowed to go about their work and business without harassment.”

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