Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Thursday, 10 January 2013

Unionist MP says his family received recent death threats

A unionist MP from Northern Ireland has spoken of how he and his family received death threats just before Christmas.

Speaking in response to a government statement on the latest situation in Northern Ireland on 10 January 2013, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the violence there grieved him "greatly".

He told MPs: "I myself before Christmas, my wife and my children were threatened to be shot because of the stand that I take in Northern Ireland.

"I think we need more than condemnation. The Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement was about developing consensus politics in Northern Ireland.

"With respect, the decision of Belfast City Council to remove the Union flag was not about consensus politics. In fact it was a reversion to the very thing nationalists say they detest which is majority rule. We need to build a consensus - and that includes unionists. It has to include unionists in such sensitive issues."

Belfast City Council voted on 3 December 2012 to fly the Union flag on 18 designated days per year, rather than to fly it daily.

The decision sparked a campaign of protests, some of them violent, and threats have been made against Alliance party councillors and Alliance party MP Naomi Long. The Alliance party holds the balance of power on Belfast City Council.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers told MPs the violence was "unacceptable and intolerable" and was causing economic damage as well as physical harm.

She said: "For some, sectarian divisions remain deeply entrenched and it's time for bold moves by Northern Ireland's political leadership to address them.

"We need to build a genuinely shared future for everyone in Northern Ireland. It won't be easy but Northern Ireland's political leadership have already shown themselves to be capable of taking difficult decisions in order to make progress on many matters.

"They have fixed tougher problems than the ones we face today. I believe they can rise to the challenge as they have to so many others in the last few decades."

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Vernon Coaker also condemned the "disgraceful violence".

He told MPs: "This violence would not be acceptable in London, it would not be acceptable in Cardiff, it would not be acceptable in Edinburgh, and indeed it is not acceptable in Belfast."

SEE ALSO

Story Tools

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific