‘Punishment’ attacks in north west have to stop, say MLAs

Punishment beatings (File picture).
Punishment beatings (File picture).

The victimisation of at least 89 people by paramilitaries in so-called ‘punishment’ attacks in the Londonderry 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% of 688 paramilitary victims across Northern Ireland 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 Londonderry, 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 Northern Ireland have been attacked with an array of weapons including wheel braces, hurley sticks and sledgehammers.

Nail-studded baseball bats, batons, bricks, hammers, crowbars, pickaxe 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.

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.

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.”