Belfast priest threatened by 'criminal gang'

Father Gary Donegan
Father Gary Donegan

A Belfast priest has spoken out after he was threatened by a criminal gang in north Belfast.

Father Gary Donegan says that he and other community workers in north Belfast have been subjected to threats and has urged those behind them to "leave behind the path of violence".

He said: "I would quite happily die here, because these people are second to none. They have made that known to me and I will continue to serve them as long as I am here."

Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, also condemned the threats, which are believed to have come from a dissident republican group.

He said: “To intimidate clergy, social and community workers and all those who are working tirelessly and peacefully in the service of their local community, especially those addressing pastoral and social concerns, is a weak and cowardly act on the part of those who themselves are threatened by the prospect and reality of peace, reconciliation and the rule of law.

"I would ask those who have issued these threats to stop and think.

“I ask them to leave behind the path of violence which will ultimately achieve nothing for the citizens of this country, nor for themselves.

“I ask them to engage in dialogue in order to resolve all problems, to offer hope for their communities and neighbourhoods and to build a shared future for all the people of Northern Ireland.”