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Apathy over protest rally disappointing

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 06/06/2016

Paramilitaries use punishment beatings to maintain their control (picture posed)
Paramilitaries use punishment beatings to maintain their control (picture posed)

There was a poor attendance for Saturday's rally at the City Hall in Belfast to protest against the spate of 'punishment' attacks which continue to disfigure our society.

To judge by the pictures, there were hardly more than a dozen people present despite the efforts of the organisers to attract support.

Maybe this was due to the good weather or other pressing events, or people wanting to carry out their Saturday shopping.

Perhaps on a sunny afternoon they didn't want to think of such dark subjects as so-called punishment attacks.

This is especially true of people who do not live in the terrorised danger areas, and would be unlikely to experience an attack personally or on one of their family.

Sadly, it could be a question of protest rally fatigue. Whatever the reason, it is dispiriting to discover such a lack of support so soon after the murder of the Belfast taxi driver Michael McGibbon, who bled to death after being shot in an alleyway, and also so soon after last week's attacks in north and west Belfast.

The organisers of Saturday's rally nevertheless deserve great praise for trying to focus our attention on such lawlessness. The Children Of The Troubles group, and the long-time campaigner Professor Liam Kennedy, produced hard-hitting posters, and it is all the more sad that people could not spare even a half-hour on Saturday to back them up.

The low attendance was worrying because these attacks are continuing, and yet we almost seem to take them for granted. In any other society these would be major news stories, with calls for the perpetrators to be hunted down and punished.

This continued violence, which also affects teenagers, is a form a paramilitary child abuse, and it remains a stain on all of us. Who are these ghouls who can impose their barbarism without judge or jury?

While this continues, we are not a truly peaceful society. Do we want to see our children and grandchildren grow up in a society where this is regarded as routine?

We may all have had other plans on Saturday, and we may not have wanted to be reminded of the dark side to life in Northern Ireland.

However, enough is enough, and there is a moral imperative upon us all to care about these things and try to prevent them happening.

Belfast Telegraph

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