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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Moves to reassure DPP members
NI chief constable Hugh Orde
Hugh Orde discussed intimidation with SDLP delegation
Steps are being taken to provide district policing partnership members with increased protection from ongoing intimidation, Chief Constable Hugh Orde has said.

He was speaking after five people were arrested in County Tyrone by police investigating death threats to Catholic members of the policing body.

Four men and a woman were detained following a police operation in Strabane at about 0700 BST on Thursday.

Police said the people were being questioned about dissident republican activity over a period of time.

Mr Orde met a SDLP delegation on Thursday to discuss the police's plans to deal with the intimidation and to reassure DPP members.

"I was in Strabane in the early hours of this morning looking at what my officers are doing, and we have a major police operation running, not just in Strabane," he said.

It's made me more determined that I'm going to see this thing through
Marian Quinn
Londonderry DPP member
"We are looking at what we can do - we have arrested five people in relation to some incidents in Strabane and we continue to look at providing additional reassurance and protection for those people who have stood up and have been counted."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he was satisfied steps were being taken to give more protection to members of district policing boards.

Speaking after the talks with Mr Orde, he said he could understand why people were confused about the position of Sinn Fein and the IRA.

"People have very genuine and valid questions, not least because they see the attacks being similar to patterns of attacks in the past by the IRA itself," he said.

He criticised language used by Sinn Fein when district policing partnerships were being set up.

However, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams dismissed comments made by Mr Durkan, Mr Orde and Policing Board Vice Chairman Denis Bradley as "political opportunism".

Threat

The Policing Board confirmed on Wednesday that Mr Bradley had received a threat.

It came hours after he condemned the campaign of intimidation of Catholic district policing partnership members, including an arson attack which destroyed a car at the home of Londonderry district policing group member Marian Quinn.

A breeze block was put through the back window of Mrs Quinn's disabled husband's car at Coshowen, in Galliagh. A petrol container was found on the back seat.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan
Mark Durkan satisfied at protection measures
Mrs Quinn said the police warned her on Tuesday night that they had received a threat from the Real IRA that all Catholic members of the DPP throughout Northern Ireland were what they called "legitimate targets".

She insisted the attack had made her more determined to remain in the district policing partnership.

"I feel that I've entered a contract on behalf of my community to do the best that I can in monitoring policing within my city," she said.

"We want to rid the community of all the anti-social behaviour, the racketeering and joyriding, and I am not going to be put off.

"It's made me more determined that I'm going to see this thing through."

Mr Bradley said the attack on Mrs Quinn and others in the policing partnerships were reprehensible and must be totally condemned.

"This attack was an attack not just on Mrs Quinn and her family, but on the entire Catholic community by members of the Catholic community," he said.

"It is totally unacceptable and I know that the Catholic community will not allow itself to be threatened and bullied in this way."

Series of threats

The attack was the latest in a series of threats to members of policing partnerships across the province, which have led to two members resigning.

Teresa Rooney, a member of Cookstown DPP, stood down on Tuesday and last week an independent nationalist in Fermanagh resigned following a threat from the Real IRA.

Other attacks have included an attack on a car belonging to a DPP member in Strabane which was set alight outside the school where he was teaching and a hoax bomb which was left outside the home of a DPP chairman in Tyrone.

News of the incidents came as Policing Oversight Commissioner Tom Constantine said that threats from dissident republicans to kill community policing board members were the biggest test yet for the new arrangements.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness condemned the threats as deplorable and unjustifiable and said the IRA was not involved.

He said dissident groups were responsible and should disband.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble described those responsible for the recent attacks as absolutely despicable.

Mr Trimble said attempts to intimidate those involved in providing civic involvement in policing should be rejected by everyone.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Mark Simpson
"They are being questioned about dissident republican activity over a period of time"



SEE ALSO:
Death threat to Policing Board member
17 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland
Policing body threats condemned
17 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland
Bullets sent to DPP members
11 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Police warn DPP of further threats
12 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland


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