BRITISH PRIME minister David Cameron has condemned a letter-bomb campaign against Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two leading club supporters, as it emerged that Cardinal Keith O’Brien was sent a bullet in the post days before last year’s visit to Scotland by Pope Benedict XVI.
Describing the incidents as “absolutely appalling”, Mr Cameron said: “It is a reminder of the appalling sectarianism that exists in some people’s minds. Even as we actually deal with it quite effectively in Northern Ireland, it’s still a problem and it must be sought out and crushed.”
Meanwhile, Strathclyde police want to interview three people who were seen close to post-boxes in several places in Scotland around the time the packages were sent to Lennon, lawyer Paul McBride and recently retired member of the Scottish parliament Trish Godman.
Security at this Sunday’s match between Celtic and Rangers is to be stepped up following the incidents, with police ready to use undercover snatch squads to remove fans found singing sectarian or pro-terrorism songs.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that a live bullet was sent to the leader of the Scottish Catholic Church, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, just before the Pope visited Scotland last September. An accompanying note, from the “Protestant Action Force”, said the cardinal would be shot if the Pope arrived.
Police and MI5 investigated the matter, but were unable to make progress. Cardinal O’Brien said he had opened the letter himself:
“This was a horrific incitement to violence and deeply regrettable, but in the end it did not detract from the welcome the Pope received from the vast majority of Scots of all and no religious affiliations.”
However, he insisted that he has not changed his day-to-day activities since then: “I’m just going on as normal. It’s not made any difference to my way of life. I’m just getting on with my work. I’m just sad that this sort of thing can and does happen in our country.”
Condemning the threats against Lennon and the others, the leader of the Ulster Defence Association, Jackie McDonald, said he had “no time” for the Celtic manager, but: “No one has the right to attack him or his family.”
Earlier, loyalist sources in Scotland connected to the Ulster Volunteer Force, who spoke to Scottish journalists, said the letter-bombs were “the work of a deranged individual, or individuals, and not linked to the loyalist cause”.