Northern Ireland

Paramilitary attacks: Increase in shooting and assaults in 2019

Ending the Harm screenshot Image copyright Ending the Harm
Image caption In 2019 there were 67 victims of paramilitary style assaults, compared to 51 in the previous 12 months.

There has been an increase in paramilitary shootings and attacks in Northern Ireland during the past year.

Between January and December 2019 there were 67 victims of paramilitary-style assaults, compared to 51 in the previous 12 months.

There were also 18 casualties of paramilitary-style shootings, compared to 17 last year.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) say the "barbaric" attacks have "little to no community support".

The latest police figures also show that the number of bombings have decreased slightly from 17 incidents in 2018 to 15 in 2019.

There were two security related deaths in Northern Ireland last year and 147 people arrested under The Terrorism Act.

'Barbaric'

Det Ch Supt Raymond Murray said: "There is no justifying these attacks, they are barbaric.

"Those who continue to believe in the use of violence, from whatever criminal grouping they claim to represent, do so to cement their own status and exert control, in full acceptance of the fact that they are victimising their own communities."

He added: "These hypocrites acting as judge, jury and, in some instances, executioner do not represent the interests of any community."

The latest figures come as Northern Ireland's main political parties are due to re-enter devolved government after three years of deadlock.

The British and Irish governments published the text of a draft deal on Thursday night.

It promises reforms on health and social care and on the Irish language and Ulster-Scots.

It also outlines additional resources for tackling paramilitarism and would see an additional 600 PSNI officers.

The deal, entitled 'New Decade, New Approach' states: "Ending the harm done by paramilitarism will be a priority in the new Programme for Government."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Research found that fewer people in the areas most affected by paramilitary attacks now feel they are justified

One of the most high profile deaths last year was that of journalist Lyra McKee

The 29-year-old was shot in the head while observing rioting in Londonderry's Creggan estate.

The New IRA admitted carrying out the murder.

An advertising campaign targeting the paramilitaries behind the attacks was relaunched in August last year.

The Ending the Harm campaign saw a roll out of radio and tv adverts highlighting the impact of paramilitary crimes.

Det Ch Supt Raymond Murray said: "Paramilitaries peddle the fantasy that they exist to protect or defend the community but the reality is that they are driven by their own self-interest. They show cowardice in the way they fail to make themselves accountable and continue to carry out acts of violence despite having little to no community support.

"Contrary to the perpetrators' rhetoric, not all of their victims have been involved in criminality. When criminality occurs within communities, the Police Service of Northern Ireland is the only legitimate provider of law and order."

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