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  1. ITV Report

Man arrested over threats against NI Health Minister

Health Minister Robin Swann. Credit: Presseye

Sectarian threats have been made online against Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann, leading to the arrest of a 26-year-old man.

Police are investigating the “threatening and offensive” comments posted on social media on Friday.

The suspect was arrested in the Ballymena area of Co Antrim on Sunday on suspicion of improper use of telecommunications causing anxiety.

He has since been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

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Health Minister Robin Swann has been leading efforts in Northern Ireland to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The former Ulster Unionist leader represents North Antrim in the Assembly at Stormont.

UUP leader Steve Aiken said: “It is utterly despicable that threats that were blatantly intimidating and sectarian were made against our exceptionally hard-working and dedicated health minister.”

He said he was calling on all Stormont Executive ministers to come out and condemn it.

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SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “Robin Swann is working night and day to reduce the impact of coronavirus on our communities.

“The vile sectarian abuse and threats that he and his family have been subjected to are disgusting and those responsible must be held accountable.”

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Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the “disgraceful abuse and threats” were to be condemned, adding: “In very turbulent and challenging times, there is no place for this nonsense as we work together to save lives.”

Five million items of personal protective equipment have arrived in the region on Monday.

Medics have been calling for extra supplies after an expected joint order with the Republic of Ireland from China fell through due to international competition.

Nurses have warned that without protective equipment they will not be able to treat patients.

A surge in the number of Covid-19 cases is due to reach its peak over the next fortnight as Northern Ireland remains on lockdown to try to limit further spread.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know