Belfast Telegraph

Joe Reilly murder: We must unite against Isis-style justice haunting Northern Ireland streets

By Henry McDonald

If and when the Kurdish freedom fighters of the Peshmerga, alongside the regular Iraqi army and Shia militias, finally liberate Mosul they will undoubtedly uncover further evidence of Isis' brutality towards anyone who has crossed the Islamist fanatics in the city.

There will be more horror-videos, no doubts, of public executions of those whom Isis has deemed to have committed un-Islamic transgressions, ranging from adultery to blasphemy; from smoking to not having the proper amount of hair on one's face.

And when the reports filter through of how the Jihadi maniacs have imposed their own version of Sharia law on Mosul, we will all recoil at the totalitarian terrors it has inflicted on the civilian population.

Yet while there is no precedent in these times for the kind of lynch-law 'justice' the Isis maniacs have meted out, in Northern Ireland today there still exists an alternative 'punishment' system that another band of secular zealots is forcing upon civilians in its communities.

These 'punishments' for supposed crimes, in cases where there is no legal representation, no presumption of innocence, no right to a fair trial or appeal, are not carried out in public view the way Isis does.

None the less, in the last six days alone, they have ranged from kidnappings, beatings, multiple shootings to even an execution.

The murder of Joe Reilly by gunmen firing shots through the living room of a house on the Poleglass estate in West Belfast is the culmination of a bloody week of so-called 'community justice'.

It stretched from Derry where one man sustained multiple gunshot wounds, to the shooting of 56-year-old Peter Lagan on the same estate where Mr Reilly died on Thursday night.

The Reilly killing and the other woundings once again underline the fact that, in some working class communities in Northern Ireland, particularly in republican/nationalist districts, life is far from normal and 'justice' is a word perverted and abused.

In essence, what the continuation of the regime of so-called 'punishment' beatings and shootings is all about is a three-way communal power struggle. One strand of this is the battle between the legitimate force of law and order, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and the various factions of armed dissident republicans.

The other strand of this struggle is between the violent dissident republican groups and Sinn Fein for influence in areas such as Derry's Creggan and Bogside or Belfast's Poleglass and Ardoyne.

The latter political force retains massive political support compared to the anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans at the ballot box. However, no one should be complacent about the appeal of offering 'instant justice' to communities who are blighted with drug dealing including, now, heroin, and other aspects of criminality.

This writer made a documentary back in 2012 for the Guardian on-line, highlighting the almost daily acts of shootings and expulsions at gunpoint directed by Republican Action Against Drugs, which also culminated in the murder of local boxer Andrew Allen.

It is worth remembering that one of those on our on-line film, the ex-prisoner Gary Donnelly, explained that there was support and indeed pressure from within these communities to have someone to "deal with" those perceived as criminals.

A few years later, Gary Donnelly topped the poll as an Independent Republican councillor in the elections to the new Derry-Strabane super council. His unapologetic analysis as to why these shootings and expulsions happen did his cause no harm.

None the less, justice should never be predicated on the whims of any supposed majority. Even if the citizens of Mosul demanded that alleged thieves, drug dealers, adulterers and blasphemers suffer the fate of Isis-style 'justice', it would make a mockery of the word.

After the Reilly murder, four years on from the Allen killing, it is surely time for civic society - churches, trade unions, human rights organisations and political parties (who, in fairness, have been more forthright in their condemnation of this barbaric secular ultra Sharia regime haunting the streets of Belfast and Derry) - to speak out against Isis-style 'justice' in an Irish context.

Belfast Telegraph


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