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Sunday 18 February 2018

Inquiry into High Kings 'death threat'

LVF named group as targets in letter to this newspaper


A death threat to the High Kings ballad group is under investigation by the gardai and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The threat, purporting to be from the hardline Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) against the group, whose members include Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey and Darren Holden, all from legendary Irish musical families, was received by post at the Sunday Independent last Tuesday.

The band are due to play a fundraising concert at Newtownbutler First Fermanagh's GAA club on July 3.

There has been controversy over the issue of loyalist parades in the mainly nationalist Fermanagh village.

Last year's Newtownbutler Border Defenders Parade cost nearly ¿40,000 to police and was the subject of an unsuccessful High Court challenge by a local resident.

It is understood that while nationalist residents have no issue with local Orangemen marching, large parades by loyalist groupings from outside the area are deeply contentious.

The threat against the group, which contained an LVF "code", was passed by the Sunday Independent to gardai, who are now liaising with the PSNI to assess the level of threat.

It specifically mentions that the ballad group "will be shot if we can't march". The band's manager, Dave Kavanagh, said he was "a bit shocked" to hear about the threat because the band had played throughout the North to audiences from both traditions.

He said that they had not been contacted by the PSNI about the threat but he had spoken to gardai, who said that it was likely the PSNI was still in the process of assessing the level of threat.

"We are going to perform until we are told otherwise. We will make a judgement call based on what we are told by the police," Mr Kavanagh said.

He said that the band didn't perform nationalist or republican ballads and had wide appeal to both sides of the community in the North.

"It's a surprise to us. We have been playing regularly in the North to mixed audiences and have never encountered any problems.

"That's why we continue to travel to the North even during the marching season," Mr Kavanagh said.

A spokesman for Newtownbutler First Fermanagh's GAA club said they were unaware of the threat and had no comment at this time.

The club is hosting the Feile First Fermanagh's 2011 festival over three days next weekend, from July 1-3, in a marquee in the GAA grounds.

The High Kings are the headline act and are expected to attract a capacity audience.

The group was formed in 2008 and their debut self-titled CD and DVD achieved platinum sales.

A second album, Memory Lane, went double platinum and the band played at the Oxegen Festival and the All-Ireland Hurling Final at Croke Park.

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