PSNI condemns 'sickening' threats made against officers' family members

Police have described threats by a dissident republican group against officers' family members as "sickening".

In a statement on Tuesday morning, the PSNI said it was treating the threat from a small-known dissident group seriously.

An internal communication has been sent to all officers to highlight the threat.

The Irish News reported that the threat came from a group called Arm na Poblachta.

Political parties have condemned the threat.

Assistant Chief Constable for the PSNI Crime Department Mark McEwan said: “We are taking this threat message seriously and have reminded all officers and staff of their personal safety and security both on and off duty.“This is a sickening attempt to terrorise our officers and staff.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland will not be deterred from delivering a visible and impartial policing service to all communities.”

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) described the threat as "deplorable" and said it marks "an escalation" in the "pathetic rhetoric" of dissident republicans.

“These people, and whoever else collaborates with them in their murderous cabal, point to the bankruptcy of their position," a spokesperson said.

“They are without purpose, other than to kill and maim officers and now, it seems, their families. They are trying hard to find relevance when they are being shunned.

“We must work together to rid Northern Ireland of the scourge of paramilitarism and gangsterism, and I would appeal for an all-out community effort to do just that.”

The threat comes after the attack on Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell. The New IRA are thought to have been behind that attack on the of-duty officer who had been packing his car with his son after a coaching session in Omagh.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the whole community would be supporting police.

“It is hard to comprehend the mindset of those who would issue a threat against the families of our police officers," he said.

"No one should face such a threat because of their career and neither should their family.

"I know the whole community will stand united against those who would seek to drag us back."

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the threat against families of police officers "is absolutely despicable".

He called for the group behind the warning to "publicly withdraw these disgraceful threats, any other threats against police officers, and any intended attacks against anyone".

"They should pack up and go. There is no place for these groups in our communities.

“Some of these groups are heavily involved in criminality and have strong links to loyalist gangsters and other criminal gangs whose actions are a scourge on our society," he added.

In a statement, the Policing Board added: "No one should have to live under a threat because of a career choice, and neither should any member of their family.

"This is a sinister threat, designed to cause fear. It is condemned by the Board and must be condemned right across the community.”

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