“Get off our backs” was the message from Union leaders and politicians at a rally outside Derry City Council offices protesting against threats to community safety wardens.
Unite and NIPSA union leaders joined council workers and politicians in the pouring rain to protest against “disgraceful” threats to kill against 11 Derry council employees.
The resounding message from those who addressed the several-hundred strong crowd was “get off our backs”.
Derry Mayor Brenda Stevenson said: “We are sending the message to those who issue the death threats to get off our backs, Let us get on with the peace process and keep our communities safe. We back the community safety wardens 100 per cent”.
Derry City Council Chief Executive Sharon O’Connor called on those behind the “nasty” threats to withdraw them immediately.
“Our staff won’t be out on the streets until this faceless group withdraws this threat unreservedly. This is a threat and an attack on the wider community, not just the group of staff impacted.”
Mrs O’Connor added; “It’s a horrible situation to be in because we don’t know what we’re dealing with, what their agenda is or the nature of the threat. It’s absolutely disgraceful, absolutely ridiculous. It’s a terror tactic to the wider community and totally baseless.”
Liam Gallagher of the union Unite said: “It is absolutely right and appropriate to support our colleagues who have been threatened. Those behind the threats are trying to take us back to a time we have moved on from a long time ago, and it is important every worker in this city and every member of the community supports the workers and send a message back to those who sent out the threat that there is no place for them and we will not tolerate their behaviour.”
Alan Law from NIPSA said: “During the very dark days of the Troubles public servants have held the line and it’s time we showed the dissidents who made this threat against our workers that they should be withdrawn immediately. It’s disgrace people can’t go about their daily work without the fear and intimidation of a threat.”
One Derry City Council worker said: “I think it’s really important to come out and show a united voice, to have one voice that these people are valued within our community, and they are actually working very hard. The amount of people at the protest is testament to the belief these people should be allowed to do their jobs.”
Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin said those behind the threat need to “look at everyone at the rally and wise up, and remove the threat. There is no place in society for this type of threat”.
SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said: “We want an end to the threats. We want an end to the violence and call on dissident republicans to withdraw the threats now.”
DUP MLA Maurice Devenney: “The message must go to these people who issue these threats that they need to retract them immediately. There is no success in this for the future and never has been at any time. These are young guys out their doing a good job within every community and these threats should be lifted immediately.”