It has been reported that threats were issued via social media to the Skainos Centre on the Newtownards Road after the ‘Listening to Your Enemies’ event at which Patrick Magee appeared alongside Jo Berry. It follows a crowd attacking police during the talk and anti-republican graffiti being daubed on the building’s walls.
East Belfast MP Mrs Long said the threats were sinister in the extreme.
“I understand some people were offended by the presence of Patrick Magee at Skainos and they are entitled to that opinion. But no-one has the right to use the threat of violence to stop people from doing what they want, within legal and moral reason.
“Painful conversations need to be had if Northern Ireland is to progress to a truly shared future. Skainos opened its doors for one such occasion last week, just as it has in the past to other ex-paramilitaries and ex-prisoners. To build a lasting peace, we need other spaces to follow the example of Skainos and do the same.
“People behind these threats need to see the contradiction of condemning past violence while at the same time attacking police protecting the centre and threatening to burn it down. They also need to consider the damage it would do to those living in the area who rely on the services provided by Skainos for employment and assistance, whether with homelessness, poverty or social exclusion.
“Intimidation like this will not deter people from their unwavering commitment to peace and those at Skainos have my full support.”