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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 18:42 GMT
Security call after postman murder
Lindsey Milligan
Mr McColgan's partner visits the murder scene
A postal workers' union has called for security to be stepped up to protect employees following the murder of a postman and death threats to Catholic workers.

Daniel McColgan, 20, was shot dead as he arrived for work at a sorting depot in the Rathcoole area on the outskirts of north Belfast early on Saturday morning.

The loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association said it killed the Catholic father-of-one.

The Red Hand Defenders - a cover name used in the past both for the UDA and the Loyalist Volunteer Force - then issued a statement saying all Catholic postal workers were now considered "legitimate targets".
Daniel McColgan
Daniel McColgan: Postman was shot as he arrived for work

On Monday, a union official confirmed that the office where Mr McColgan worked had been permanently shut down.

Postal workers are due to suspend deliveries on Tuesday as their murdered colleague is buried.

John Keggie, deputy general secretary of the Communication Workers' Union, said he had asked the Secretary of State, John Reid, to ensure security was heightened to protect workers.

"Public sector workers and other workers must be allowed to go about their job without fear of intimidation or without fear of being murdered for doing nothing more than serving the community," he added.

He said the decision to close the office at Barna Square in Rathcoole was taken by union and management because staff feared for their safety.

"We met all the staff from Newtownabbey this morning and they made it clear they don't want to work in that office any more," he said.

"They feel vulnerable and so we have taken steps to close that office."

'Appropriate action'

Mr Keggie said it was too dangerous to have members working there, and it was likely the service would transfer to Mallusk.

He also called for the threat to be withdrawn.

Detectives arrested two men after Mr McColgan's murder but they have been released. However, two others were arrested on Monday and are being questioned.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is calling on all workers across Northern Ireland to hold a half-day strike on Friday from noon in protest at the ongoing attacks on workers.

It is also asking employees who cannot leave work - including communications workers around the UK - to observe a two-minute silence at midday on Tuesday to coincide with the funeral of Mr McColgan.

The union said the silence would be in memory of all workers murdered during the past 30 years.

ICTU deputy secretary Peter Bunting met Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan on Monday.

Bomb attacks

Afterwards, he said the ministers understood the rationale behind the protest, but they told him it was "beyond their capacity to publicly support" the call for a stoppage.

Postal deliveries throughout the province were suspended on Monday as a mark of respect to Mr McColgan.

Michael Kennedy of Royal Mail said the company hoped customers would understand what they saw as "appropriate action" in the circumstances.

"On Tuesday, the day of the funeral, we hope to put out a delivery in the morning," he said.

"Clearly we will need to facilitate those employees who wish to attend the funeral, and I imagine there will be very many, but thereafter we would hope that services would return to normal."

Royal Mail workers in Londonderry also took part in a silent march into the city centre to protest at Mr McColgan's murder.

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly observed a minute's silence in memory of the murder victim on Monday.

The threats to postal workers followed similar threats made to teachers and workers at Catholic schools in north Belfast on Friday.

Last October, Dr Reid "re-specified" the UDA - which meant the government no longer recognised the ceasefire the organisation claimed to be observing.

The decision was reached after security force confirmation that the group had been involved in inciting sectarian riots in north Belfast and carrying out pipe bomb attacks on Catholic homes.

See also:

12 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
UDA admits postal worker's killing
12 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Ahern demands action over killing
12 Jan 02 | Education
Dissidents threaten Catholic teachers
06 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Arrests in teenager's murder case
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