Intimidation campaign against councillor continues

Sinn Fein’s solitary Ballymena councillor, Monica Digney, has been the subject of a sustained campaign of intimidation since becoming the party’s first elected representative for the town. Earlier today, her car- and that of another north Antrim party councillor, Anita Cavlan- was the subject of a bomb hoax alert, which she confirmed as the fifth or sixth threat she has recieved in just over a year, the most recent being just four weeks ago.
Political representatives of all hues are periodically subjected to such threats, and all are equally deplorable. But the threats against Monica Digney- and now Anita Cavlan, from neighbouring Ballymoney Council- fall into a pattern of loyalist targeting of Sinn Fein councillors on majority unionist councils.

Since gaining election 15 months ago, threats have been made and/or attacks carried out against councillors Dessie Ward (Banbridge), Billy Leonard (Coleraine), Monica Digney (Ballymena) and Anita Cavlan (Ballymoney), while in Lisburn, a sustained campaign of attacks on the homes of Sinn Fein’s councillors continued right up to 2005. In Coleraine, a list of residents believed to have signed Billy Leonard’s nomination papers was posted on walls in the town, whilst a number of individuals on the list had their homes attacked and threats made against them.

  • Chris,

    Perhaps you should suggest that all politicians in the area should join with sinn fein in “not entering the politics of condemnation” ??

    Or is that only when that suits your own agenda?

  • Glen Taisie

    Rumour has it that some of the residents listed as having signed Billy Leonard’s nomination papersnever were asked to do so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In North Antrim the BETTING is that Philip McGuigan will not be around next time.

  • gareth mccord

    maybe she knows how victims of para intimidation feels now, just a pity that decent people arent intimiditing her and that the ones that are as damaging to the protestant coomunity as ira /s.f.

  • Chris Donnelly


    Glad to see you’re still good for a laugh.

    The first comment is- apart from being slanderous- presented without a shred of evidence. Although I don’t pretend to know those involved in signing Billy Leonard’s papers, I would have the confidence in Billy to believe this to be a lie told on your behalf in a (pathetic) effort to throw dirt at him as a councillor. I could just as easily- and wrecklessly- name a SDLP councillor and make the same allegation, but that would be equally ridiculous and without foundation(yet another reason, Mick, for removing the anonymous/ nom de plume option for commenters on the site.)

    I can imagine Philip McGuigan will be quaking in his boots following that prediction. Small wonder the bookies in north Antrim make such a fortune….

  • austin

    I wouldn’t expect to be knocked down in a stampede of (democratic?) unionists feeling the need to condemn paramilitary intimidation of a democratically elected public representative.
    However I’m disappointed that Gareth feels the need to endorse paramilitary intimidation.

    irony of ironies..

  • Chris Donnelly


    Would you be related to anyone who fell victim to paramilitary violence?

  • austin

    To be fair to Gareth,
    I suspect there may be some less than subtle trolloing on the go.

  • John East Belfast

    Chris Donnelly

    “Political representatives of all hues are periodically subjected to such threats, and all are equally deplorable”

    Out of interest how can you make the above statement and yet justify (I assume) the murder of Robert Bradford and Edgar Graham ?

  • Insider

    If I was a poker player I’d bet that McGuigan won’t run next time.

    Does Monica claim the milage to Council meetings from Finaghy?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Does Monica Digney live in Belfast while representing Bannside in Ballymena?

  • Chris Donnelly

    All sides in the conflict have long since announced ceasefires and formulated an Agreement in 1998, bringing an end to the war that took place here.

    During that war, there were many politicians- as well as others- killed and targeted, John. I could just as easily throw out the names of more than a dozen Sinn Fein members and elected representatives killed, but that would be pointless from the position of where we are today.

  • austin

    I note that your comment omits any specific reference to and condemnation of the threats to the Sinn Fein councillors -an unintentional oversight I am sure.

    I am sure the integrity and consistency of our comment would extend to the murders of John Turnley and Senator Paddy Wilson for example amongst many others.

    If that is the case, why did your reference relate top the murders of unionist politicians only?

  • John East Belfast

    Chris Donnelly

    I thought you would give me the old that was then and now is now line – it was just the strength of your language – “equally deplorable”.

    It doesnt leave any room for equivocation from someone representing an organisation who until recently saw that political killings were a means to an end.

    I am not surprised the dissidents are confused and angry.

    The difference with you and I is I would have condemned all political murder all of the time whereas SF are a bit late with this view point.

    I suppose when you start supporting the police you will be condemning attacks on the PSNI ?

    I am not knocking it I just cant see why you have changed your tune so considerably.

    You didnt obtain your objectives so the condemnation of people doing what SF/IRA did for so many years only proves how futile and wrong such acts of brutality were.

  • John East Belfast


    I hope my last point answers your question.

    I have always considered all acts of murder by anyone as wrong.

    I only referred to the two unionist politicians as I understand Chris Donnelly is a supporter of the past militant republican movement and Bradford and Graham were murdered by that group.

    If it had been David Irvine making similar statements then I would have used your examples

  • Insider

    “Does Monica Digney live in Belfast while representing Bannside in Ballymena?”

    Well far be it from me to give that impression, but the website of Ballymena Borough Council seems to be under that impression.

  • I think JEB made quite a credible point earlier on. I hope that all would join me in condemning the actions of the criminals that targeted Monica Digney, John Turnley, Paddy Wilson, Edgar Graham and Robert Bradford, to name but a few.

    It would be nice to hear nationalist terrorist apologists calling on all with information on any of those crimes to share such information with the legitimate security forces.

  • austin

    Thank you for the clarification John and I will accept that you are consistent and even-handed in your condemnation of all paramilitary threats against democratically elected politicians.

    To prove my faith in you is correct, I will again ask you-do you condemn unreservedly and without equivication, the threats against the Sinn Fein councillors?
    No If’s, no Buts and no qualification.
    A simple Yes or No will suffice.

  • Insider

    I’ll throw in unequivocal condemnation of any threat or attack on Monica Digney too – no ifs buts or anything else. Just as everyone should have done for Edgar Graham and Robert Bradford.

  • John East Belfast



    And considering you have pushed this point can you answer me these simple questions

    1. Do you think the murder of Bradford & Graham were unequivocably wrong ?

    2. Are you a supporter of SF ?

    3. If you answer yes to 1 how can you answer Yes to 2

    4. If you answer No to 1 how can you condemn these threats on SF Councillors today ?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Monica Digney does a lot for local government representation then. Could SF not find a local to run in Ballymena, I thought you had to live or work in the area to stand for local government.

  • John East Belfast


    perhaps you have gone to bed ?

    If not I am disappointed that you pursued me into a corner and then did not return the favour when I queried you

    I hope I hear from you

  • austin

    sorry did go to bed

    In reply to your questions

    1. Yes

    2. No

    3. n/a

    4. n/a

  • John East Belfast


    Thanks – each of us appear to have been barking up the wrong tree.

    Just shows the importance of asking and talking !

  • gareth mccord

    read my piece again. i meant if it were decent people who got rid and made the people who killed and destroyed people in this country were made to suffer then i welcome it . in fact i would participate. i do not welcome prara scum doing anything but dying themselves.

  • Yokel

    I think the lesson is don’t go into frontline politics. Instead be a coward and pontificate on forums like this, where you can feel important but safe and don’t have to learn any compromise.

    Another reason to bless the Internet….

    I wouldn’t condemn it all, i think if you’ve spent a history of supporting (or remaining mysteriously silent) violence as long as it suits the side you are coming from then screw ya, you have to take the possibility that you’ll get it return.

  • gareth mccord

    yokel eh?
    i agree there are alot of people who hide behind the scene unlike a few campaigning families but the point is there is no protection and support for victims

  • willowfield

    Perhaps Monica will now better be able to empathise with those intimidated – and worse – by her Provo colleagues.

  • Glen Taisie

    Chris Donnelly

    (perhaps your sense of humour was abducted re Philip McGuigan)You missed my punchline but thankfully Insider picked it up.

    With regard to the Nomination papers completed for a local government candidate in Coleraine East by Billy Leonard. Believe me there is VERAcity in the claims that names of YOUNG and old were included without the owners knowledge.