Northern Ireland's McGuinness gets death threat from dissidents

BELFAST Thu Mar 7, 2013 5:10pm GMT

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BELFAST (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's deputy prime minister - a former commander in the rebel IRA - said on Thursday he was under a death threat from militant nationalists after he condemned a mortar bomb plot.

Martin McGuinness said a senior police officer had visited him on Wednesday night and warned him dissidents had made a "real and active" threat against his life.

McGuinness fought a three-decade war against British rule in the province, but joined a power-sharing government with pro-British unionist rivals after the signing of a 1998 peace deal.

That decision made him a hate figure for groups of dissident Republicans, small groups of fighters who are continuing to fight British rule with sporadic attacks on security officials.

The threat from such groups has intensified in the past four years as frustration with the power-sharing government has grown on the fringes of the nationalist community.

The leading pro-Irish Sinn Fein politician said detectives had linked the threat to his condemnation of dissident republicans who had attempted to attack a police station in Londonderry on Sunday.

Police said they foiled the assault and two men appeared in court charged in connection with the case on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Ian Graham; Writing by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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