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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Legal challenge over gun licence
A prominent republican is at the mercy of loyalists determined to murder him because he has been refused the right to carry a gun to defend himself, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

Martin Meehan, who is on the Key Persons Protection Scheme following numerous death threats, is seeking a judicial review of Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid's refusal to grant him a firearms certificate.

Mr Meehan's lawyer told the court on Thursday that the Sinn Fein councillor had been subjected to several attacks on his life and threats to kill him.

Seamus Treacy QC added that the south Antrim councillor's family had also been targeted and his failure to get a firearms certificate meant he could not defend himself or his family.


This case is all about double standards

Martin Meehan Sinn Fein councillor

"The risk of his death is increased because those who want to murder him know he has not the means to defend himself," he said.

One of the reasons stated for Dr Reid's decision was Mr Meehan's convictions for terrorist offences.

Mr Treacy contrasted the ruling with the decision to allow two soldiers back into the British army to carry lethal weapons after they were convicted of murdering Belfast man Peter McBride.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Meehan said the case was basically about equality of treatment.

"Nationalist politicians, particularly Sinn Fein members, are being discriminated against in the matter of firearms certificates which are granted to unionists," he said.

"We have had 13 Sinn Fein councillors shot dead and this case is all about double standards."

Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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