A parish priest in Londonderry has said there is a “fear factor” in the city after a string of ‘paramilitary style’ assaults.
Father Joe Gormley, parish priest at St Mary’s in the Creggan area of the city, was speaking after three paramilitary style attacks - including a shooting - were carried out over 48 hours.
Two teenage boys were hospitalised after being beaten by a group of masked men in Creggan at around 11pm on Thursday night.
At around the same time on Thursday, three men were beaten by a gang wielding bats and iron bars in teh Clon Dara area of the city.
And on Friday, a 25-year-old man was shot in the leg after three masked men entered a house in Mimosa Court in Gobnascale, in the Waterside area of Londonderry.
Fr Joe Gormley, who spoke out strongly against dissident republicans following the murder of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee during rioting in Creggan just over four months ago, described the “fear factor” in the city following the string of attacks.
Speaking on BBC Radio Foyle on Monday morning, he said: “The fear factor that is often created maybe tries to keep people silent and people sometimes need a voice to say socially unacceptable behaviour is not acceptable, nor is any reaction to it which involves violence. That has to be said loud and clear.”
He continued: “It’s not quite clear who did this. There’s some disupute about as to whether paramilitaries were actually behind this. But to whoever did it - beating up anybody has never changed anybody’s behaviour or releived them of addiction.”
Asked if he would like to see more police patrols in the Creggan area, Fr Gormley said: “Definitely. I know police are making efforts to do that in terms of more commnuity involvement that might just not be on stream yet, it’s on the way. But it’s not just police, it’s all of us. Police are the emergency responders when the thing’s happened. There’s deeper questions that need to be asked here, really deep questions that are not being asked that we all have to answer. We all have a part to play in that so we’re not getting into a spiral of violence.”
PSNI Chief Inspector Johnny Hunter also spoke on BBC Radio Foyle on Monday morning.
“I believe none of the injuries are life threatening but the trauma of the physical and psychological injuries will stay with these people and, indeed, their family members and others who were present when these attacks took place,” he said.
“We are liaising with those people at this time but I don’t believe the injuries are life threatening or life changing.”
He continued: “I think there is a fear factor here. If you look at these attacks, historically, that are carried out by these people - they don’t tackle the root cause. There are deeper causes here. This does not sort out crime or anti-social behaviour. Whatever the perception is these people may or may not have been involved in - this only adds to it. That’s all I can say.
“We need your help here. Listening to Father Gormley there - this is not just for police. This is for the entire community. Nobody wants this type of thuggery on our streets here. These people are accountable to no one for their actions.”