Paramilitaries keep woman under virtual house arrest
Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland are holding a woman under virtual house arrest.
She has been threatened with "bother" if she is seen on the street, a victims' advocate revealed.
The Wave Trauma Centre, Northern Ireland's largest support group for those affected by the Troubles, said around a third of its referrals involved more recent paramilitary intimidation.
Its core purpose is helping those injured or bereaved during the 30-year conflict and Alan McBride, a manager at the support organisation, said resources were being stretched to respond to current threats as well.
Mr McBride said: "We are working with one young woman who is effectively under house arrest. Paramilitaries have told her if she is seen on the street there will be bother.
"She cannot leave the house."
Much of Wave's work with intimidation victims involves keeping them safe in their homes, supplying security cameras.
Mr McBride added: "There are ongoing issues that we are dealing with day-to-day, sometimes having their houses attacked or car windows smashed, people looking at people across the street, threatening words.
"Estates are very small and localised, people in one loyalist housing estate moving to another loyalist area, intimidation follows them as the UDA (Ulster Defence Association) and UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) have tentacles everywhere."
He said a lot of their problems were "self-inflicted".
"Some are involved in joy-riding, drugs, anti-social behaviour.
"But these are matters for the police and not for paramilitaries to act as self-appointed judge and jury to inflict their version of 'justice' on communities."
He said dissident republicans opposed to the peace process had been "using" children during recent violence in Londonderry's Bogside estate.
"There is a lot happening that is not helpful.
"We are dealing with the aftermath, with some of the people that come to us.
"Our resources are being stretched in relation to people coming with present day-to-day issues and there are people who have been put out of their homes because of intimidation."
Mr McBride said it was a policing question as to how much of the intimidation was Troubles-related and how much was present day.
Although Wave is making sustained efforts to address the issue, speaking more generally, Mr McBride said: "You have a very sick society. There is the appearance of a blind eye being turned."