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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Diplomat moved over death threat
Belfast skyline
The Irish diplomat has been moved from Belfast
An Irish diplomat working in Belfast has been transferred to Dublin because of a loyalist threat to her life.

Aine De Baroid, was working with Irish President Mary McAleese's husband, Martin, in his outreach work with loyalist communities.

Ms De Baroid was moved in August after discussions with the PSNI, which believed the threat was a credible one.

The threat was made against her by a breakaway faction of the Ulster Defence Association paramilitary group.

Ms De Baroid, from Cork, a senior official at the Department of Foreign Affairs, has been moved to Dublin and will carry out her work from there.

Fr Aidan Troy, a priest based in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, appealed for the threat to be lifted saying Ms De Baroid had made "a huge contribution" and brought a fresh approach.

Non-political

"A death threat... is a horrible thing and in this society it has no place, and therefore I would again be saying whoever has done this please lift it and let the lady return to work," he said.

Ms De Baroid - one of an estimated 30 Irish civil servants based in Belfast and Armagh - works for the British-Irish Secretariat.

Frankie Gallagher from the UDA-aligned Ulster Political Research Group said that Ms De Baroid was non-political and that he would continue to work with her.

"In east Belfast we never took any money to get any resources in and yet we had a fantastic relationship with Aine, where she came and helped us in an advisory capacity," he said.

"She also went up to other areas where she helped maybe eight to 10 other groups with small amounts of money or resources.

"She built up a fantastic relationship on a human level and politics never, ever came into it."

He said that he could not see anyone within the ranks of the paramilitary groups UDA, UVF or Red Hand Commando being behind the threat.

Policing Board chairman Sir Desmond Rea condemned the threat.

He said: "By all accounts, Ms De Baroid has worked hard within communities in Northern Ireland to the goal of reconciliation.

"Her commitment to the latter is something that should be applauded, but unfortunately it has been used by some as reason to threaten her life."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Vincent Kearney reports on the threat



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