08 April 2005

Daily Ireland

Call to shoot thieves

A public meeting to discuss criminality in the Ardoyne area of Belfast descended into chaos when sections of the crowd demanded paramilitaries shoot car thieves in the head.
However, senior republicans rejected the calls, insisting that punishment beatings do not work.
They urged the crowd to look at different ways to tackle anti-social behaviour other than violence.
Although welcomed by the majority of the 200 people in attendance, a small group of around 15 berated republicans for their stance.
The meeting on Wednesday evening also witnessed a major argument between relatives of a man found dead in Ardoyne two months ago and members of Sinn Féin.
The family of Stephen Montgomery believe the father of two was murdered and they accused republicans of doing nothing to help them bring his alleged killers to justice.
The PSNI, however, is treating the incident as a fatal hit and run.
After 45 minutes the meeting eventually broke up when a large section of the crowd walked out.
Local community workers moved yesterday to distance themselves from the proceedings.
Ardoyne Focus Group development manager, Mickey Liggett, said the public meeting did not have the support of the wider community.
He also described as “way over the top” leaflets put through hundreds of letterboxes advertising the meeting which described Ardoyne as a “community from hell”.
Mr Liggett said: “This meeting was organised by a number of individuals who did not have the support of the Ardoyne Focus Group.
“From all accounts, it descended into a slanging match, offering no solutions to the area’s anti-social problems.
“Punishment beatings are not the way to deal with crime. This community is opposed to that type of retribution.”
Community Restorative Justice, an organisation that attempts to deal with the root cause of anti-social problems, had an equally dim view of the meeting.
Spokesman Brendan Clarke said: “It was an attempt to orchestrate community endorsement of physical punishment.
“I was there and, thankfully, the vast majority of people in the hall rejected these calls.
“We need to come together as a community to tackle anti-social behaviour.
“Shooting teenagers in the legs doesn’t work.”

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