Belfast Telegraph

Derry dad shot in front of his children by dissident gang

Police hunt dissident gang who pumped four bullets into leg of victim

By Donna Deeney

Blood stains at the front door of the home of a Londonderry man, shot four times in the leg by a dissident gang, bear testimony to the rough justice meted out by dissident republicans.

The 29-year-old was dragged outside in front of his partner and children who watched in horror as hooded men put four bullets into his leg on Thursday before running off.

This was the latest so-called punishment shooting in Derry, a crime that has increased four-fold this year.

Police admit it is proving "very, very difficult" to bring those responsible before the court.

Tommy McCourt from the Rosemount Resource Centre - an organisation tasked with mediating on behalf of people under threat - believes the increase in these attacks is due to more people taking allegations to the dissident organisations rather than the PSNI.

Chief inspector Tony Callaghan admits this is a possibility because dissidents are holding the community to ransom, leaving people afraid to give information.

Over the past year almost 20 people in G District were shot by paramilitaries - all but two of them by dissident republicans.

Chief inspector Callaghan said that despite spending almost £600,000 fighting dissidents in the first six months of 2014, detecting offenders was not easy.

He said: "There have been a number of shootings this year which concerns me as these style of paramilitary assaults and shootings have been a feature of our society for too many years now. It's brutal, it never worked, it doesn't work.

"The police service is here to deal with criminality if people have allegations of that sort. I accept that in some areas people are afraid to contact the police because the dissident organisations have them terrified that if they do, then they will be next on their list.

"I just don't accept that people would prefer to see someone shot rather than see them arrested, charged and brought before the courts."

Mr McCourt said that while his organisation had mediated successfully on behalf of people threatened by the dissidents, he remained concerned at the increase in violence this year. He said: "We did see a drop in the number of these types of shootings but it has risen again this year and we haven't been able to put our finger on the exact reason for that.

"I believe that more people are taking their complaints to the dissidents, thinking that this is the way to deal with it but another possibility is that these groups are becoming less and less inclined to enter into mediation."

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