A protest has been held in Belfast by a cross community group calling for an end to so-called punishment attacks by loyalist and republican paramilitaries.
The protest was held outside Belfast City Hall on Saturday at 1pm by ‘Children of the Troubles’ to expose the scale and severity of loyalist and republican paramilitary ‘punishment’ attacks on children - and to highlight the traumatic effects of the various forms of physical and psychological abuse inflicted on them.
Organisers said the protest was held to challenge the “thugs” to “leave the people in peace”.
In a statement the group says that since 1990 more than 500 children have been shot or beaten and maimed by paramilitary groups.
They say several hundred others have been ‘exiled’ from their homes under threat of violence.
“Following the outbreak of the Troubles, these so-called ‘punishment’ attacks – orange-on orange and green-on-green violence – have been carried out in mainly working-class areas,” adds the statement.
“They have traumatised some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in our society.”
The statement adds that since 1973 “when statistics first began to be compiled, more than 6,000 people, of all ages, have been subjected to crude paramilitary-style ‘punishments’”.
“Most of the victims were young, male and working class,” it added.