Police and politicians must act over paramilitary style violence

Police and politicians must act over paramilitary style violence Fr Martin Magill

Catholic activists have called on the PSNI and the North’s politicians to act now to eradicate paramilitary-style violence, as gangs continue to exploit disadvantaged communities.

As the PSNI reported 40 paramilitary style assaults so far this year, Fr Martin Magill of the Stop Attacks campaign called on politicians to speak out against a “culture of violence”.

“I get frustrated with some of the politicians, there’s 40 of these attacks since the year’s start,” Fr Magill continued. “Some politicians will regularly call this out, but others for some reason, they see it as maybe just one of those things.”

He warned that we “must all be very clear that this is not the way a normal society acts. Politicians must speak out on these issues”.

The paramilitary-style attacks correlate with socially disadvantaged areas, Fr Magill added, saying gangs “exploit these communities’ difficulties”.

Meanwhile, Maria Rosa Logozzo of Focolare Belfast said that the police must improve relations with socially and economically disadvantaged communities.

A lack of trust in the police mean people in these communities turn to paramilitary gangs rather than the police.

“When young people hear the police are coming, they are worried and frightened,” Ms Logozzo said. “The PSNI need to reach out and build trust with these people.”