Editor's Viewpoint: Attacks on elderly are total disgrace
The bravery of the east Belfast woman who fought off the attackers ransacking her home two days ago is worthy of the highest commendation.
Maisie Chapman (82) has given a graphic account of how she chased off intruders with her feet, her fists and a brush.
It is difficult to begin to imagine the danger of an elderly woman taking on much stronger and younger attackers, and the initiative of a lone pensioner defending herself against those who might well have inflicted severe damage upon her.
Maisie described the episode as "a disgrace", and so it was. There have been far too many reports recently of attacks on older people. Two other pensioners were also attacked last weekend.
On Friday three men forced their way into the home of a 77-year-old woman in Lisburn, and around the same time a woman in her eighties was attacked at her home in Dromore.
Not long ago an elderly man in the border area was assaulted in his house, and almost every week there are similar reports of pensioners, usually living alone, who are regarded as "soft" targets by thugs looking for easy pickings.
Although it is not possible for the police to protect every potential victim, the safety of the elderly must be high on their list of priorities. Civilians can also play an important role by remaining aware of the dangers and by keeping on eye on their elderly neighbours.
Ultimately it is the law that must punish severely all those found guilty of such cowardly and despicable crimes. Meanwhile, the sheer courage of people like Maisie Chapman is worthy of our utmost admiration and respect.