Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Paramilitary beatings and shootings triple in a year

Paramilitaries have stepped up their efforts across Northern Ireland to control the communities they live among through brutal beatings and shootings.

And republican paramilitaries in particular are bringing guns out more frequently to enforce their influence and drive people from their homes, according to figures compiled by the PSNI.

The escalation in so-called punishment attacks coincides with renewed efforts by the Real and Continuity IRA elements to kill Catholic police officers and a political impasse between Sinn Fein and the DUP which has paralysed the Stormont Executive.

PSNI figures show that between April and June this year the number of paramilitary attacks trebled compared to the same period in 2007 and reported attacks last month show that the bid to exert control in nationalist areas in particular is continuing unabated.

Figures compiled by the PSNI show that between April and June this year dissident republicans carried out three so-called punishment shootings compared to none in the same three months last year.

And assaults carried out by republican paramilitaries and loyalist paramilitaries doubled in the same period compared to the same three months last year.

Assaults by loyalists doubled to four as did attacks attributed to republicans by the PSNI between April and the end of June this year.

Overall paramilitary shootings and assaults recorded by the PSNI rose to 11 compared to just four assaults and no shootings carried out between April and the end of June last year.

And while the volume of attacks so far this year is well short of the total of 52 for last year, the tripling of the figures for the three months to the end of June is a worrying sign.

In July punishment shootings continued with Gerard Maguire shot in both legs in the Ardoyne area of Belfast and told to leave Northern Ireland.

And a 29-year-old father of five was issued with a death threat and ordered to leave Belfast after a hooded gang burst into his home in Lenadoon in the west of the city.

He was one of three men from the area ordered to leave Belfast by a group calling itself Oglaigh Na hEireann.

Six men armed with a gun forced their way into a house in the Whiterock area days earlier looking for a 20-year-old man and a masked gang visited the home of another man from the Andersonstown area and threatened him.

Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt said: “This is worrying evidence of the continuing attempts of paramilitaries to exert influence over their communities and I will be looking for an assurance from the police that they will robustly pursue and deal with those paramilitary groups responsible for these horrific attacks.”

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