Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Public humiliation that was all too familiar during Troubles

What happened on a Belfast estate at the weekend harks back to the darkest days of the Troubles.



The punishment - which is designed to publically humiliate and degrade the victim - dates back to the Crusades when it was used to enforce informal justice throughout Europe and its colonies.

Tarring and feathering became a popular form of punishment in Northern Ireland, carried out by the IRA, in the 1970s.

Many of the victims were women accused of conducting sexual relationships with members of the RUC or British soldiers.

These terrified women had their heads shaved before being dragged to a lamppost.

Once tied up, they had hot tar poured over their heads.

This was followed by feathers being dumped over them which would stick to the tar for days, acting as a reminder of their so-called crimes against their community.

Many of the victims of tarring and feathering - like the man targeted in Taughmonagh at the weekend - had signs placed around their necks to inform the community of their alleged crimes.

It became a popular form of punishment for perceived anti-social behaviour, with the aim of humiliating victims in front of their friends and neighbours.

In the spring of 2003, two teenagers from the Ardoyne area of north Belfast were stripped, tied up outside the Shamrock Club and covered in tar, oil and paint.

The act was carried out by the INLA for alleged anti-social behaviour in the Republican stronghold.

However, with peace on our streets for over a decade now, tarring and feathering incidents - as well as kneecappings - have drastically declined.

But what happened in Taughmonagh this weekend proves such humiliating forms of public punishment haven't gone away.

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