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Paramilitary-style shootings can never be justified

While people in Northern Ireland are familiar with paramilitary-style shootings and beatings, it is fair to say there is less awareness of this barbaric activity in Britain.

However, a new BBC programme may help to bring to a wider audience a horrific practice that still goes on, despite the peace process, the ceasefires and a huge reduction in violence generally.

Stacey Dooley, who is currently a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, may be regarded as a rather lightweight presenter but there is no doubt she is prepared to tackle serious subject matters, paramilitary attacks being a case in point.

In her documentary, which is on iPlayer and due to air on BBC1 next Tuesday, she spoke to several victims, one of whom detailed the trauma and devastation caused to his children after he was shot in the legs and ankles in the kitchen of his home.

The programme also heard from Joanne McGibbon, whose husband Michael died after he was shot by republican paramilitaries in Ardoyne in 2016.

In the period 2016/17, there were 28 reported paramilitary-style shootings in Northern Ireland and it is absolutely appropriate for people to get beyond the statistics and hear the human stories of suffering and terror resulting from those who set themselves up as the self-styled arbiters of justice in our community.

Unusually, some of those engaged in this type of cruelty contributed to the programme, albeit with their identities disguised.

It is clear that these gunmen feel no remorse for their actions.

One masked man said: ``We believe it is a justified and measured response.''

The comments made by these paramilitaries are chilling in the extreme.

Under no circumstances and in no democratic, lawful society could the deliberate and cold-blooded shooting of someone in the legs be regarded as a 'measured response.'

There can be no justification for such violence and people who support these attacks need to think long and hard about what they are advocating.

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