Above the law? 59 paramilitary attacks in Mid-Ulster

Paramilitary attacks have continued
Paramilitary attacks have continued

Latest figures released by the PSNI reveal the grim extent of paramilitary punishment attacks in the Mid Ulster area.

Between 2014 and 1990, there have been 59 such attacks by paramilitaries operating beyond the law.

A total of 44 of the assaults were carried out by Republican paramilitaries, while the remaining 15 were perpetrated by loyalists.

However, across Northern Ireland, the majority of the attacks were carried out by loyalists (58 percent).

Lives were lost and limbs destroyed in assaults and shootings carried out by both sides.

The attacks have continued into the present day with almost 500 such incidents reported across Northern Ireland in the last six years alone.

The highest number of assaults were reported in West Belfast – 357. The highest number of shootings took place in North Belfast – 481 incidents.

In the local area, 17 of the attacks were shootings, while the remaining 42 were described as assaults. Since 2009, in 13 of these attacks charges were brought against at least one person. However, only one person has been convicted to date.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Typically a paramilitary style attack is carried out on an individual or individuals by one or more persons usually from their own community.

“The reasoning behind the attack is usually either to intimidate the victim or to punish them for perceived anti-social activities.”

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: “The PSNI condemns paramilitary style attacks in the strongest possible terms. They are barbaric and brutal, often leaving victims with life changing injuries.”

He said that all attacks are fully investigated but there were challenges to the investigations, including the victims’ fear of reprisal.