Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said he will not be deterred by dissident republican death threats.
Mr McGuinness said that on Wednesday night he was contacted by the PSNI and informed of a “real and active” threat against his life from dissident republicans in Derry.
The senior Sinn Féin leader said the threat followed his condemnation of an attempted mortar bomb attack by dissident republicans in the city on Sunday evening.
Speaking yesterday, Mr McGuinness said he is taking the threat seriously.
“I was visited at home by the PSNI who informed me of a real and active threat against me from a dissident group in Derry. They linked the threat to my condemnation of the recent attempted mortar attack in the city and other remarks made in support of the PSNI.
“Both myself and the PSNI are taking this threat seriously,” he said.
He insisted, however, that he continue to voice criticisms of dissident republicans.
“There are times when in political leadership staying silent is not an option and I will not be silenced by threats like this. I will defend the peace process from attack from whatever quarter, be it these groups or the loyalist flag protesters over recent months.
“It says much about the mentality of those controlling groups like the one behind the threat that in their warped logic threatening Irish Republicans and their families somehow advances the cause of Irish reunification.
“I am very sure of the ground I stand on. I am also very sure that it is the path shared by republicans across this island genuinely interested in building a new agreed Ireland, republicans who put Ireland before ego, criminality and self gain,” he said.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan condemned the threat against Mr McGuinness. “I utterly condemn any such threat against Martin McGuinness or anyone else. These threats are as wrong now as they have been over the past 40 years.
“Such a threat must be repudiated, not just because it is against a politician of any given party, but because it is against a representative serving in the democratic institutions which all the people of Ireland mandated under the Good Friday Agreement.
“Those behind this threat and recent attacks or attempts need to consider the folly, futility and desperate confusion of the dangerous logic to which they have locked themselves.
“If they would release themselves from their anti-democratic efforts they could make some contribution to improving peace, freedom, justice and democracy,” he said.
It is unclear which dissident republican group issued the threat against Mr McGuinness but it is believed to have been the organisation calling itself the ‘IRA’ - formed last year through an amalgamation of the Real IRA and Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD).
It is not the first time dissident republicans have made threats against Mr McGuinness.
In 2009 a masked member of the Real IRA read out a statement from the organisation at an Easter Rising commemoration in the City Cemetery in which it said that “no traitor will escape justice regardless of time, rank or past actions”.
At the time dissident republican sources said the remark was a veiled reference to Mr McGuinness.
However, sources also said the threat would not be carried out for what were described as “operational reasons”.