Call for an end to brutal practice after 89 victimised in paramilitary-style attacks in Derry area in just eight years

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The victimisation of at least 89 people by paramilitaries in so-called ‘punishment’ attacks in the Derry area over the past eight years has been condemned by local MLAs who have called on those responsible to end the brutal practice.

New figures released by the PSNI show that 13 per cent of 688 paramilitary victims across the North were either shot or beaten in the old North Western G District or its successor Derry City and Strabane policing area between January 2009 and January 2017.

Between 2009 and 2015 there were 79 attacks in G District, which covered the old Derry, Limavady, Strabane and Magherafelt council districts.

And in the two years following the Review of Public Administration (RPA) there were a further 10 attacks in the Derry City and Strabane area.

Details released by the PSNI under Freedom of Information legislation show that victims across the North have been attacked with an array of weapons including wheel braces, hurley sticks and sledge hammers.

Nail-studded baseball bats, batons, bricks, hammers, crow bars, pick axe handles, hatchets, axes, mallets, air weapons, golf clubs, iron bars, tasers and spiked knuckle dusters have also been used in attacks, according to the PSNI.

The continuing practice has been condemned by local political representatives.

Sinn Féin MLA and Justice Spokesperson Raymond McCartney said: “Sinn Féin have repeatedly stated our opposition to these attacks and that they needed to stop.

“They simply achieve nothing. The community recognise this, local representatives and those groups working hard within our communities recognise it. It is high time that those behind these activities recognise it.”

SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan said: “These figures are very worrying, working out as an attack almost once a month, but sadly they are not surprising and highlight the fragility of the peace that we have here.

“My party has stood strongly against all kinds of violence over the years as it’s clear that all violence does is create more victims.”

Mr. Durkan also said that the figures represented just the tip of an iceberg of paramilitary activity in the city.

“The figures only reference paramilitary attacks and don’t take into account the number of people who been threatened and who have had to leave their homes in the city,” he commented.

The SDLP MLA called on those responsible to stop.

“Behind each of these statistics is a person and a family, which has been impacted not only by the physical injuries sustained in the assaults but also by the psychological trauma, which can be more difficult to measure,” he said.