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Editor's Viewpoint

'Punishment' crime must end for good

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'It may seem quixotic to use the expression " benefits of coronavirus", but one of them appears to be a reduction in the recorded numbers of paramilitary shootings and beatings.'  (stock photo)

'It may seem quixotic to use the expression " benefits of coronavirus", but one of them appears to be a reduction in the recorded numbers of paramilitary shootings and beatings.' (stock photo)

'It may seem quixotic to use the expression " benefits of coronavirus", but one of them appears to be a reduction in the recorded numbers of paramilitary shootings and beatings.' (stock photo)

It may seem quixotic to use the expression " benefits of coronavirus", but one of them appears to be a reduction in the recorded numbers of paramilitary shootings and beatings.

The figures published yesterday by the Police Service of Northern Ireland show that there were 13 paramilitary-style shootings in the 12 months to October. This was a drop of four on the previous year.

During the same period, the PSNI recorded 44 paramilitary-style assaults, a figure which was down by 18 compared to 2018-2019.

This, however, begs the question: has the republican and loyalist paramilitaries' self-styled "policing " role weakened during the Covid-19 crisis?

While this reduction is to be welcomed, as is a reduction in any form of crime, there can be no justification for what used to be described routinely as "punishment" attacks, as if the paramilitary thugs carrying them out were some perverse extension of the justice system.

The reduction in attacks is also likely to be unintended, in the same way that the pandemic has reduced the global emissions of greenhouse gases.

We also won't know until some time after the introduction of a mass vaccination campaign, whether or not the reduction is permanent or temporary.

There is also the danger of under-reporting paramilitary attacks, while convictions for involvement in these activities remain rarer than hens' teeth.

However, the fact remains that in common with other forms of terrorist activity during the Troubles, we became inured to paramilitary-style attacks.

One such attack was even reported in the traffic section of a radio news bulletin.

Can you imagine a shooting and wounding with intent being reported similarly anywhere else in the United Kingdom, or Ireland?

The gangsters who carry out these dreadful attacks are not defending their communities, as they claim.

Instead, they are preying on them.

The only acceptable figures for them are: paramilitary shootings 0, paramilitary attacks 0.

Belfast Telegraph


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