THE lives of Sinn Fein councillors are “dispensable” according to a republican whose application to carry a gun for personal safety was rejected yesterday in the High Court.
Antrim borough councillor Martin Meehan, right, had applied for a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision not to lift the lifetime ban, but it was turned down by Mr Justice Kerr because of his previous convictions.
Mr Meehan said he receives loyalist death threats “on a weekly basis” and there have been numerous attempts on his life and those of his family.
The Sinn Fein councillor claimed double standards were at work as unionist politicians were given “a carte blanche” for firearms certificates.
‘All elected representatives are entitled to the same rights but Sinn Fein are treated as second class citizens,” Mr Meehan said.
“I and my family are under continuous threat from loyalist paramilitaries. Thirteen Sinn Fein councillors have been killed in the past and numerous others wounded but it just seems Sinn Fein lives are dispensable.”
The ‘cassette bomb’ posted on Thursday to the Dunloy home of party colleague Philip McGuigan “amplified tenfold the threat Sinn Fein is under” according to Mr Meehan.
In the High Court yesterday Mr Justice Kerr said that not everyone who had received a threat was entitled to a firearms certificate.
“It must be open to state authorities to assess the risk that would arise from allowing a person threatened to have access to a firearm and to balance this against the perceived risk to that individual,” he said.
He added that many of the death threats related to Mr Meehan electioneering in south Antrim in May 2001 and there was no intelligence of a specific contemporary threat.
However Gerry Hyland, from Madden and Finucane Solicitors, said Mr Meehan had been informed by the police last September of a threat made by an anonymous caller.
His details were also found on a computer thought to be linked to loyalist paramilitaries in March 2001.
He said there had been “real and immediate” risk to Mr Meehan’s life and that an appeal would be lodged.
Mr Meehan yesterday condemned the decision which he said meant he “did not have the right to protect his family”.