'Slaughter match' warning over Derry attacks
Young men in Londonderry are opting to “take a flesh wound, rather than be forced from their home town and families,” according to a local community worker who has warned of a "slaughter match".
Michael Doherty of the Peace and Reconciliation group said that he knew of at least five men who had been ordered to leave the city in the past week by the group RAAD.
Meanwhile, a local woman has spoken out about the dilemma facing parents who have to decide whether to "present" their child to be shot or have them blasted anyway.
Karen Mullen said women incensed by the "option" have come together to form the group Move On - Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere in Our Neighbourhoods.
Referring to the five men under threat, Mr Doherty told the Derry Journal they were informed of a RAAD threat against them and that two of them are currently in hiding.
Mr Doherty said he spent Friday night “pleading” with a 21-year old male, not to meet RAAD as they were intent on shooting him.
“He told me that he thought he would ‘take the flesh wound’ rather than the hassle of leaving his family, his home and his town," said the community worker who warned the situation will "get worse.”
Calling for common sense to prevail before these young men turn the tables on RAAD, Mr Doherty asked "What if they discover who RAAD are? RAAD are not the only ones who can get guns. Then we could end up in a slaughter match.
"We need to identify alternatives to violence, even if this means bringing RAAD on board," he said.
His warning come after over 200 people attended a protest rally at Guildhall Square in Derry on Saturday to voice their opposition at the violent group.
The protest was organised after RAAD issued a death threat against Ray Coyle, a city centre shop owner who previously been shot by RAAD.
Protest organiser, Colm Bryce said: “The threat against Ray Coyle was a very deliberate attack on the anti-RAAD movement but we are not going away or will we give into their threats. The important thing is to keep the debate going."
He expressed sympathy to the women who shared their personal experiences at Saturday's rally, including Donna Allen who son was murdered by RAAD and Paula Dillon whose son was forced from the city 14 weeks ago by the Republican group.
The campaign against RAAD has been supported by the women behind Move On, who formed recently in the wake of the threats.
Considering the dilemma faced by parents, which she claimed was happening on a "weekly" basis, Ms Mullen said: "We can only begin to imagine what thoughts and considerations were going through their heads. Bring your wains to be brutalised or we will brutalise them worse.
She said the dilemma "began a thought process and conversation for us all. What if it was my son?”
"It was with these thoughts in mind, and the most dominant thought of a mother expected to deliver her son by appointment to be shot, that provoked a small number of us mothers to move from ‘What would we do?"
A rally was soon organised and last month approximately 150 mothers held a vigil and released white balloons into the sky over the city.
She said the group has since carried out a number of engagements with young people, community organisations and youth forums to discuss issues of drug and alcohol abuse.
Stating it was not merely anti-RAAD, Mrs Mullen said Move On is about building safe and prosperous communities.
"None of these issues can be tackled with violence. No mother or young person should be giving such option or be the victim of such actions.
"We will offer support to all mothers facing the threat of violence to their children,” she said.