Belfast Telegraph

Paramilitary intimidation 'rising'

The level of intimidation by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland is on the increase.

Homelessness due to victimisation was up by a third, the number of casualties from attacks more than doubled, while the targeting of Orange Halls has risen, according to new figures.

The Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) compared activity by armed groups last year with the previous year. It found the desire for a shared future remained high across the community with an increased demand for mixed neighbourhoods.

Community Relations Council (CRC) chief executive Duncan Morrow said: "While some things have improved, especially in public attitudes, the evidence shows that we still have a long way to go.

"The high levels of intimidation of others because of their religious beliefs, political opinions or ethnic identity do not reflect the will of the vast majority of community opinion."

The OFMDFM report said in the 2009/10 financial year homelessness due to intimidation was up to 774 cases compared to 580.

Casualties because of paramilitary-style shootings and attacks have more than doubled, 122 in the 2009 calendar year compared to 56 the previous year. Attacks on Orange Halls have also increased, with a third more in 2009 than in 2008, to 77 from 57.

Most of the paramilitary assaults were by loyalists.

The CRC said it showed the desire for a shared future remained extremely high across the community, with an increased demand for social mixing across the community in opposition to separation.

Support for open and mixed residential neighbourhoods has increased again, with eight in 10 saying they favoured living in neighbourhoods with a mixture of Protestants and Catholics, the council added.

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