Alliance Party Deputy Leader Eileen Bell has called on Martin McGuinness to make a public statement to guarantee an exiled Derry man’s safety should he and his family return home.
Mrs Bell was speaking after the DPP ruled that charges against the only man accused of an alleged paramilitary attack on Mr McCloskey, now living with his family in England, should be dropped.
The McCloskey family have insisted that the IRA was behind an attack on Mr McCloskey’s home on April 2 last year. They claim that an IRA gang came to Mr McCloskey’s house to shoot him following a pub brawl involving IRA members.
However, Mr McCloskey was warned of the imminent attack and armed himself. One man who was shot and wounded was arrested and charged, but the charges were recently dropped.
Mrs Bell, who was herself driven from her home by paramilitaries, said: “A public statement from Mr McGuinness telling Mr McCloskey that any threat against him has been lifted would be a step towards convincing the public that republicans are genuinely committed to the principles of non-violence. We need to build trust on all sides.”
“Mr McGuinness may say he cannot speak on behalf of the IRA, but he does hold considerable influence over that organisation in Derry.”
“Public confidence in the republican movement is at a new low and movement on the exiles issue is long overdue. Hundreds of people have been exiled in the past year alone, and there is a general recognition now that a ceasefire is simply not enough.”
“We all have to make difficult decisions and if Sinn Fein wants to regain the confidence of Alliance this would be one worth taking.”
The director of Public Prosecutions has ruled that the only man charged in connection with an alleged paramilitary-style attack on Derry man Joseph McCloskey should not be prosecuted.
Mr McCloskey (31), a father of six, is currently living in England after he was ordered to leave the city following a shooting incident at his home on April 2 last year in which one man sustained a leg injury.
According to the Derry man’s mother, Bridie McCloskey, a Provisional IRA gang arrived at his Shantallow home to shoot him following a pub brawl involving members of the IRA.
But having been warned of the impending attack Mr McCloskey armed himself and when shots were fired at his house returned fire, wounding a man who was present.
The wounded man was subsequently arrested and charged in connection with the incident at Mr McCloskey’s home.
Following the incident, Mr McCloskey’s mother claimed her son was the target of an IRA attack.
According to his mother, when her son was asked to meet a senior republican figure to discuss the situation she would not let him go as she feared for his safety.
Her son subsequently fled his home with his wife, daughter and five sons and has lived in England since the attack.
This week police wrote to Mrs McCloskey informing her
that the DPP had ordered “no prosecution” against the man charged in connection with the attack.
A detective constable told Mrs McCloskey: “The decision not to prosecute has been made by the DPP on the basis of the evidence and information available at this time.”
Mrs McCloskey remains adamant that republicans were behind the attack and she claimed the decision not to proceed with a trial was taken in case it damaged the Good Friday agreement.
Speaking from England last night, Mr McCloskey said he was not surprised at the DPP’s decision.
He called on the republican movement to lift any threats against him “now that everything seems to be done and dusted”.
Mr McCloskey said: “There was a statement from Tony Hassan (a Derry Sinn Fein councillor) saying I was free to come home but it would need to be from someone higher up than him, like Mitchel McLaughlin or Martin McGuinness.”
Derry SDLP councillor Mary Bradley, who has been following the case, echoed Mr McCloskey’s appeal.
She said he and his young family should not be prevented from returning home. Mrs Bradley called on the republican movement to make a statement on the matter at the appropriate level.
Deputy leader of the Alliance Party Eileen Bell has called on Martin McGuinness to make a public statement on the case of a man who says he has been exiled by the IRA.
Joseph McCloskey, a father-of-six, is living in England following an incident at his Derry home a year ago when he claimed an IRA gang came to shoot him after a pub brawl.
One man who was shot and wounded in the incident was charged but it was revealed in yesterday’s Irish News that the DPP had ordered no prosecution based on the information available.
The McCloskey family have consistently blamed republicans for the attack.
Speaking after the news emerged, Mr McCloskey called on the republican movement to make known through a senior figure that he was free to return to Derry.
Now Alliance victims spokeswoman Mrs Bell has called on Mr McGuinness of Sinn Fein to make a public statement on the matter.
But a Sinn Fein spokesman said Mr McGuinness could not speak for or give guarantees on behalf of the IRA.
“The Sinn Fein leadership in Derry has gone to great lengths to assure Mrs McCloskey there was and is no exclusion order or death threat against her son,” he said.
But Mrs Bell, who was herself driven from her home by paramilitaries, said: “A public statement from Mr McGuinness telling Mr McCloskey that any threat against him has been lifted would be a step towards convincing the public that republicans are genuinely committed to the principles of non-violence.”
She said public confidence in the republican movement was at a “new low” and movement on exiles was overdue.
“We all have to make difficult decisions and if Sinn Fein wants to regain the confidence of Alliance this would be one worth taking,” Mrs Bell said.