Tell troublemakers to run or die, priest told

A priest today revealed how dissident republican terrorists told him to warn 11 youths to flee the North or face immediate execution.

A priest today revealed how dissident republican terrorists told him to warn 11 youths to flee the North or face immediate execution.

Fr Aidan Troy refused to take the list of names from a group of men when they summoned him to a secret location at his parish in Ardoyne, north Belfast.

The clergyman said he rejected their request due to concerns it would make him complicit in the plot but he did seek out one teenager he feared was in imminent peril.

Fr Troy said he has been wracked by anxiety since the rendezvous a week ago, questioning whether he had taken the right action.

He told the Press Association: "They were saying its death or nothing – get out or you're killed.

"This has wrecked me, the emotion of it. I had to go to bed that night asking if I had made the wrong decision. Suppose three young people had been shot dead?"

The terrorists met the Ardoyne priest last Sunday to discuss alleged anti-social behaviour in an area plagued by street crime.

With the staunchly republican district yet to embrace the North's reformed police service, paramilitary rough justice is frequent.

However, even by their standards, the message was stark when a sheet with names written on it was offered to Fr Troy.

"They wanted me to take the list and tell those on it that basically they were under threat of execution if they didn't get out of the country," he said.

He turned them down, however, without even listening to any reasons they could give.

The priest, who on Saturday married dancing superstar Michael Flatley and Niamh O'Brien in Fermoy, Co Cork, insisted nothing can justify threatening someone's life.

However after the men repeatedly referred to one youth who Fr Troy knew, he decided to speak with that family.

"I told them I have reason to believe your son is in danger, tonight or in the next 24 hours and they should tell him," he confirmed.

No others were notified, and Fr Troy cannot recall who else was on the list.

Since the meeting one 17-year-old youth in Ardoyne was shot with pellets in the head and body.

He is still in hospital, and there is nothing to suggest any connection.

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