West Belfast shooting last night was ‘vile terrorism’

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A man was shot in both legs in west Belfast last night, police say.

The PSNI were called to the scene at Ardmonagh Parade shortly before 10.30pm on Thursday.

The man was taken to hospital.

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has condemned the shooting.

Mr Beattie said: “Yet again we have seen another disturbing and appalling shooting of an individual in West Belfast by so called self-styled vigilantes linked to a variety of violent republican groups.

“While some would want to call this, or refer to it, as a punishment shooting, I am clear it is no more than vile individuals using any excuse to terrorise, intimidate and coerce their own communities through threats of violence.

“These individuals say they are trying to keep drugs off our streets or deal with anti-social behaviour but in reality what they are actually doing is ensuring they have the lion’s share of the drugs trade market.”

He continued: “Without a doubt the PSNI have a major role to play in removing these individuals from our streets and I welcome the work of the Paramilitary Task Force.

“But this is also terrorism in its most basic and direct form and the use of the Terrorism Act 2006 should be used to target these groups.

“It is also important that communities and society as a whole begin to face up to these thugs and any pre-arranged shootings, beatings, intimidation or coercive action by these thugs should immediately be reported to the PSNI and robust action taken.”

The UUP MLA continued: “There also remains an issue with the Probation Board Northern Ireland (PBNI) and the important role they have to play within communities with vulnerable ex-offenders who may well be coerced into taking part in these type activities.

“It is important that the threat the PBNI are currently under from republican paramilitaries is both assessed and that action is taken to address that threat, in order to safeguard the public. In the meantime, anyone who is being targeted by these thugs should immediately go to the PSNI with any information they have and the PSNI should be proactive in taking action.”

Inspector James Murphy has appealed to anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area on Thursday night to contact detectives in Musgrave on 101 quoting reference number 1360/12/04/18 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.