Action demanded on `punishment' attacks


Human rights campaigners are demanding immediate action to tackle the "alarming" rate of paramilitary shootings and beatings in the North. Despite the IRA and loyalist ceasefires, there have been 74 so-called "punishment" attacks during the past five months.

Since the renewed IRA ceasefire was declared on July 20th, the Provisionals have shot and injured at least 10 young men and beaten 25. Loyalists have carried out 11 shootings and 28 beatings in the same period, according to RUC figures. In two separate attacks at the weekend, a 39-year-old man was shot in the leg in north Belfast and a 20-year-old man shot in both legs in west Belfast.

Ms Nancy Gracey of the anti-paramilitary group Outcry said: "These attacks are getting worse. The ceasefires are a sham. Republicans and loyalists are running up and down the steps of Stormont and they are the biggest hypocrites."

Urging the British government to address the issue, Ms Gracey said: "Instead of meeting Gerry Adams at Downing Street, Tony Blair should have been leaning on him to get something done about this. Tony Blair and Mo Mowlam have got to get their act together on this one."