- 09 Apr 01
Despite the IRA’s declaration of a ceasefire, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the Provos, like their Loyalist counterparts, are still engaging in “punishment attacks” and in the issuing of expulsion orders. Report: Liam Fay. Pics: Alan O’Connor
On the morning of Sunday, September 4th, four days after the IRA’s declaration of a ceasefire, five hooded and armed men raided a number of houses in the staunchly republican Markets area of South Belfast. During these raids, they abducted a group of young men suspected of joyriding, and took them away for interrogation.
Four of the youths were eventually set free but the fifth, an 18 year old, was not. He was ordered to lie on the ground while the gang systematically smashed his arms, wrists and fingers with iron bars and claw hammers. The victim was later taken to hospital where he received sixteen stitches and treatment for a broken arm.
Incidents such as this are far from unique in Northern Ireland. Paramilitaries on both sides of the sectarian divide have long claimed the right to “police” their own communities and to mete out such brutal punishment when and where they deem it appropriate. Along with beatings and kneecappings, nationalist and loyalist “punishment squads” also issue regular expulsion orders to people whom they dub “undesirables,” insisting that they leave Northern Ireland for good within 48 hours or else face death. Last year alone, there were reports of 67 individual expulsion cases, among these were 12 entire families. By the very nature of what’s involved, however, this figure is seen as only a small proportion of the real total.