Government asked to review security for NI Health Minister after online threats

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The Government has been asked to review the security of Northern Ireland’s Health Minister after he received renewed threats over his stance on Covid-19 issues.

Robin Swann’s Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie said he had asked the Northern Ireland Office to carry out an assessment of the minister’s security after what he described as an online “backlash” to his call for the introduction of mandatory vaccine passports in the region.

Mr Beattie said one person had been arrested.

The PSNI said officers in Newtownards detained a man in his 40s in the early hours of Tuesday on suspicion of harassment, threats to kill and persistent improper use of electronic communications. He remained in custody on Tuesday afternoon.

Northern Ireland Troubles
UUP leader Doug Beattie has asked the NIO to review Mr Swann’s security (Brian Lawless/PA)

It is the second recent occasion Mr Beattie has publicly warned of threats to Mr Swann, having told the Assembly in September that his colleague had been warned by police of a threat against him.

On Tuesday, he told the PA news agency: “Robin has come out and said that from advice that he’s taken that he believes in the implementation of Covid certification and that has led to a degree of a backlash from a certain set of people who are not happy about that decision.

“He has received threats, some are quite awful actually, online in regards to that and people saying that they will turn up to protest outside of his house and other quite disturbing things being said.

“It’s quite clear that people don’t realise that Robin is only doing what he believes is right for the people of Northern Ireland that they would threaten him.

“This is pretty disgraceful and, as far as Robert is concerned, I think his biggest concern is his family.”

Mr Beattie added: “Robin has had to increase his security already once and I’ve been in touch myself personally with the Northern Ireland Office to ask them to do an assessment of Robin’s security again, at a higher level – that’s the level we’ve got to at this moment in time.

“It’s pretty diabolical I’ve got to say that our health minister, who is trying to do the best for the country, is threatened in such a way.”

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