Belfast Telegraph

PSNI statistics show rise in paramilitary-style assaults

The number of paramilitary-style assaults in Northern Ireland is on the rise, official figures show (stock photo)
The number of paramilitary-style assaults in Northern Ireland is on the rise, official figures show (stock photo)
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The number of paramilitary-style assaults in Northern Ireland is on the rise, official figures show.

Some 64 casualties were recorded in the 12 months to September 30 - up from 55 in the 12 months before that. The majority were carried out in Belfast (21) or the Antrim and Newtownabbey area (18).

Six of the victims in those attacks were aged under 18 years.

There were also three security related deaths in the year to September 30, compared to one in the previous year.

The figures are detailed in the PSNI's latest Security Situation Statistics, published yesterday.

Dissident republicans were behind the killing of journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry, who was shot as she observed rioting in the Creggan in April.

The INLA were blamed for the fatal shooting of Jim Donegan outside a school in west Belfast in December, 2018.

Loyalists were also deemed responsible for the murder of community worker Ian Ogle in east Belfast in January.

Commenting on the number of murders, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described the upsurge in violence as "deeply worrying".

"There is no support in Derry for murdering police officers, young journalists like Lyra McKee or anyone else," he said.

"These people like to think that they're part of an ancient struggle against the British government. They are not. They have set themselves against the democratic wishes of the people of this island. They will never win and they need to be made to understand that."

The figures, released by the PSNI, show the number of bombings dropped slightly from 16 to 15, with the majority of these occurring either in Belfast or Londonderry.

The New IRA had claimed responsibility for the bombing of Bishop Street courthouse in January. Dissidents were also blamed for an explosion near Wattlebridge, Co Fermanagh, in August and a separate blast in Craigavon, Co Armagh, in July - both of which were attempts to kill police officers.

While paramilitary-style assaults have increased, the bulletin records a decrease in the number of paramilitary-style shootings.

Paramilitaries shot 17 people between October 2018 and September 30 this year, down from 20 in the previous 12 months. Most of these (11) happened in the Derry city and Strabane area.

Meanwhile, there were 178 arrests made under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, compared to 143 during the previous 12 months. The number of people charged increased from 16 to 22 over the same period.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Griffin said the PSNI will continue their efforts on dismantling the structures of paramilitarism and encouraging the community to engage with officers.

"Paramilitaries rely on fear and violence to control communities and intimidate victims and witnesses, however, we work closely with our partners across the criminal justice system to empower people and give them the confidence they need to report incidents, provide crucial information and help us to detect and prevent terrorist crime," he said.

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