Bomb threat MP feared for her four-year-old
Published: 7 Mar 2013 13:001 comment
The Sinn Fein politician says the most recent threats concerning her have been issued to her parents in Tyrone.
But on Monday she was the target of a hoax bomb alert when a caller to the party's office in Dungannon claimed a device had been left outside her home. "The caller said: 'I hope she is in it when it explodes, this is not a joke'," Ms Gildernew told The Impartial Reporter.
The PSNI were contacted but after searching her home they found nothing.
Ms Gildernew, a mother-of-three, was attending an event in Coalisland at the time the call was made and said the threat coincided with her four-year-old daughter's return from play school.
"My concern was with her. If there was something there, I had to make sure she didn't walk into it. I was fearful that this wasn't a prank, that it wasn't a hoax. I couldn't get my husband on the phone, I phoned other members of the family to go and intercept him so he wouldn't trigger off anything in the house. With threats like this you never know if this is going to be the real one," she said.
The MP added: "This goes with the territory; other elected representatives have had bomb threats and homes attacked and you have to expect some of it. But to be honest, the person who has put my family through this is to be pitied; they need medial attention."
But several threats have been made in recent months, says Ms Gildernew, meaning Monday's bomb hoax was not an isolated incident.
"There have been a number of these threats directed at my parents about me, along with a number of bomb hoaxes at their home in the last six months. I worry about my parents and my children more than I worry about myself, but they won't put me off doing my job," she said.
In 2010, Ms Gildernew told this newspaper how she had received a spate of chilling death threats over a period of 12 months, with even her four-year-old son picking up the phone to a man claiming he had his mother and he was going to kill her.
"The first threat scared the life out of daddy and my mother. The man on the other end asked him if he was Michelle Gildernew's father. He said he was. The man said: 'We have Michelle and we have a Kalashnikov to her head and we're going to shoot her.' Daddy panicked. Then he couldn't get hold of me."
Last year, the politician spoke for the first time about her battle with depression and how being asked by her party to stand aside both as MLA in the assembly and as chairperson of the health committee had an impact on her mental health. She has revealed this week that she is now receiving treatment for her depression.
"I will try and not let what happened on Monday affect my mental health, you have to keep strong. I am getting counselling and it is doing me the world of good," she said.
Meanwhile, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has hit out at the person responsible for the hoax bomb alert against Ms Gildernew.
In a tweet to The Impartial Reporter, he said: "Michelle works hard for all. She is also brave unlike the cowardly person who sought to intimidate her and her family."