A number of businesses in Co Tyrone were warned to withdraw their sponsorship of a sporting event in a sinister threat from an unknown republican group.
Police confirmed they are investigating the handwritten letter sent to businesses around Dungannon before last weekend’s event.
Up to seven triathlon sponsors were warned there would be “war and bloodshed” if they didn’t pull out of the event which took place on Saturday.
A phone call was also made to another triathlon organisation in Dublin ordering the event to be cancelled. It’s understood the phone call was traced to a mobile phone in the Dungannon area.
A PSNI spokesman said: “Police can confirm that a number businesses in the Dungannon area have reported receiving threatening letters and telephone calls in recent days.
“The police investigation into these reports are ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
The event organiser – Tri Limits Triathlon Club, a community-run organisation – said it did not want to comment on an ongoing police investigation.
The letter, which was posted days before the event, said: “Tri limits are very foolish to blacken their good name throughout Ireland for one rogue event.
“Tri limits should cancel this event now and no one should support it.
“Don’t come, and stop war and bloodshed taking place.
“You could be a victim, a dead one.”
It was signed by the ‘Republican Brotherhood Unit’.
Ulster Unionist councillor Walter Cuddy described it as a “sinister” letter.
“I can only hope that people would see sense and realise this is a sporting event that includes all sections of the community,” he said. “Lots of triathlons take place right across Northern Ireland and it’s disappointing that this particular event has been targeted.
“Tri Limits is a local organisation that is run by a committee of local people and they should be able to host an event that is free from any type of threatening behaviour.
“I hope that the PSNI can find those responsible for this letter.”
SDLP councillor Malachy Quinn also condemned the letter.
He said: “Anybody should be able to sponsor any event they want, free from intimidation or threats. Those sorts of days are long gone and I am shocked to learn of these letters.
“They are threatening what seems to be a very innocent competition and what business is it of the people behind this to target these local companies.
“It’s what these independent businesses want to do and they should be left to sponsor whatever event they want.
“I know of some other businesses outside the Dungannon area that are threatened if they carry out work with or for the police.
“I am dumbfounded that anyone would threaten a sporting competition.”