Northern Ireland

Republican paramilitaries threaten parents of 'anti-social' young people

Masked men armed with bats and guns were pictured in New Lodge last week
Masked men armed with bats and guns were pictured in New Lodge last week

Republican paramilitary group Action Against Drugs has threatened to target the parents of those accused of crime and anti-social behaviour in north Belfast.

The group said it planned to “end the source of anti-social behaviour, house break-ins, car thefts and intimidation by scum within the area.”

In a statement it singled out the parents of people involved in anti-social behaviour.

“Parents who condone and allow their sons/daughters to participate will be held responsible for the actions,” it said.

“Control your youth or we will.”

The warning comes just days after armed and masked men were pictured in the New Lodge area in front of graffiti threatening to take action.

One man can be seen holding what appears to be a pick shaft while another is brandishing a gun.

It has been claimed that a large group of men were involved in carrying out a “patrol” of the nationalist area last week.

The latest statement comes after a controversial anti-internment bonfire was built in the area by young people earlier this month.

There were several stabbings in the area in the run up to the bonfire, which was opposed by some local people and politicians.

A ‘Not in Our Name’ rally was later held and in its aftermath three cars were torched and a house broken into.

Last week a man in his thirties was hospitalised with a broken leg after being beaten with baseball bats in the district.

It is not known if this attack is linked to the recent threats.

In its statement AAD said “the New Lodge is a proud area and well not stand by and see it destroyed.

“No warnings will be given,” it said.

“We will use all means at our disposal to stop these scum.”

The group has previously claimed responsibility for killing north Belfast man Danny McKay in 2012, alleging he was a drug dealer.

It also shot dead fast food delivery man Dan Murray in west Belfast in May 2016 and Joe Reilly in Poleglass, on the outskirts of west Belfast, in October that year.

In its statement the group said it will continue to target drug dealers.

“Our main aim is still the drug epidemic sweeping our areas,” he said.

“Our message to those involved in drug dealing (is) ‘be afraid’.

It added that “we will stop the scum terrorising our areas”.

SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said more need to be done to combat the legacy of the Troubles.

“We need to do more about it,” she said.

“But who is taking the lead in these things?

“We can’t allow these people to fill the void.

“I have dealt recently with families whose relatives were shot dead by Direct Action Against Drugs and their pain is as sharp as anyone elses.”

Responding to this week’s graffiti Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly urged AAD “to get off the back of the community”.

“There is absolutely no place for this group who have already been responsible for a number of deaths and beatings,” he said.