Belfast Telegraph

ONH not behind latest punishment shootings, says mediation group

 

By Allan Preston

Ceasefire dissidents Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) are not believed to be behind a spate of recent punishment shootings in Belfast, a government-funded mediation group has said.

The republican terror group was behind the attempted murder of Catholic PSNI officer Peadar Heffron in 2010, but this month announced a ceasefire "against the British State" but added, "we will continue to protect our membership and base".

The limited nature of the statement has raised concerns the group would continue to carry out paramilitary-style attacks.

On Tuesday night in west Belfast, a 39-year-old was shot in both ankles in Glenalina Gardens, Ballymurphy.

He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital with serious injuries with police calling the attack "brutal and horrific".

Two other shootings took place within an hour on Sunday night.

A 41-year-old man was shot five times in his arms and legs when a gang entered his home at Ballymurphy at the west of the city.

In north Belfast, a 26-year-old man was shot three times in his legs at his home in Upper Meadow Street, New Lodge.

At the time police said both victims sustained "potentially life-changing injuries".

Joe Hamill is director of Conflict Resolution Services Ireland (CRSI).

The group has often acted as an intermediary with ONH in an attempt to prevent conflict.

In the past the PSNI have raided CRSI premises on the Falls Road and in Ardoyne as part of investigations into ONH.

Despite this, the group still receives hundreds of thousands of pounds from Government and charitable organisations.

"We have no information to suggest ONH are involved in any of those shootings," Mr Hamill told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Our view is that these particular shootings have been carried out by different groups. It's not one group that's responsible for all three shootings and it's our view that the shootings aren't connected."

Mr Hamill said the problem was persisting as some members of the community were still "wedded to the belief" that punishment shootings and beatings were effective.

"If we can convince people in communities these attacks are counterproductive then those armed groups won't continue to, as they see it, respond to demands made upon them.

"In the work we do reaching out to those who engage in punishment shootings, we try and persuade them it doesn't work, it's inhumane and it needs to stop."

Regarding the ONH ceasefire he added: "From what we hear and pick up from them, yes our view is that they are committed to the ceasefire."

On Tuesday the Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan condemned the latest shooting in Glenalina Gardens.

"This comes only days after another shooting in the area and the community wants these attacks to end immediately," he said.

"Anyone with information about this attack should bring it forward to the police."

SDLP councillor Tim Atwood added: "Another brutal shooting of man in west Belfast - let us all send a clear message that these attacks must stop.

Belfast Telegraph

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