Punishment shootings must stop

  On 26th April, the paramiltary-linked Republican Action Against Drugs shot another victim in Derry – this time an 18 year old who received bullets in both legs.

This was an extremely callous attack. The mother of the victim was instructed to bring him to a location, forcing her to stand a short distance away while they carried out the shooting.

 

No matter what suspicion may exist, there is absolutely no justification for these so-called ‘punishment’ shootings. Many innocent young people have been shot in the past by paramilitary organisations which are not accountable to anybody. Many people in some of the most deprived working class communities correctly see that the PSNI are not capable of dealing with anti-social behaviour and drug dealing. But it has been shown that these types of brutal shootings and attacks also fail to stop drug abuse and anti-social behaviour. In fact these attacks detract from and disregard the fundamental social and economic reasons why people turn to drugs.

The statistics in the Creggan area alone (where this young man came from) are harrowing to read. According to the Research and Statistics Agency, 40% of the population are young adults (16-39 years) – 76% have no or low levels of educational qualifications, 55.2% are unemployed with 56.3% of those long-term unemployed. It is grinding poverty and alienation which forces many people to find some respite in the use of drugs.

Agenda of control and intimidation

The people who came out to protest against this attack understand that the issues are broader than just RAAD’s excuse that they are somehow defending local communities against anti-social behaviour. These attacks are rightly seen by people as a means of republican paramilitaries exploiting people’s genuine fear of drug abuse and associated criminality to intimidate and bully the community as a whole. This is why protestors rightly demanded that there is no place for RAAD and that they should immediately disband. While it is important and correct that everybody opposed to these attacks should be welcomed to attend such protests, this should not be at the price of allowing the same politicians who are destroying community and public services from cynically manipulating campaigns.

The Socialist Party supports the right of local communities to campaign against drug dealing and anti-social behaviour through mass action and democratically accountable organisation. In order to deal with these issues it is also necessary to demand decent jobs, homes and education for all and in particular to fight to defend local community services which are crucial in cutting across anti-social behaviour and alienation.

 

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