Northern Ireland: Bludgeoned, maimed, tortured: a month of beatings in Ulster

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The Independent Online
PUNISHMENT BY the paramilitary organisations comes in many forms. Sometimes it can be a bullet through the fleshy part of the leg, or the sadistic, persistent beating around the knees and ankles with baseball bats or pickaxe handles spiked with nails.

Since the start of 1999, 42 such beatings have been recorded by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. This marks a dramatic resurgence in violence after a period during which the paramilitary organisations had been relatively inactive. The following are details of some of the attacks.

1 January


A man had both his hands broken when he was attacked with iron bars in the afternoon innorth Belfast.

3 January


A man was beaten with pickaxe handles studded with nails. The attack, during the afternoon in east Belfast, caused bruising to his body. Two further incidents occurred in Newtownards. The victims, both men, were beaten with iron bars.

4 January


A 25-year-old man was taken to hospital after being beaten by a number of men wielding pickaxe handles in the Markets area of Belfast. The man had injuries to his head, chest and both legs.

5 January


A gang of five masked men armed with a handgun and metal bars smashed their way into a flat occupied by a woman, a 15-year-old youth and two men in Donegore Drive, Antrim. The two men were taken into the kitchen and beaten. Both suffered head and leg injuries. In a second incident, two men, aged 27 and 29, were each shot once in the leg just before 6pm. They were found lying together in an alleyway at Falcarragh Drive, in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast. One of them had been grabbed and bundled into a car while walking in the Ballymurphy area; the other is thought to have been forced into another car while walking on the Falls Road. Both were driven to Lenadoon to be shot. All four men involved in the day's incidents were hospitalised.

6 January


Two men in the Lurgan area were beaten with iron bars, and suffered leg and head injuries.

7 January


Two punishment-style attacks took place in the Ormeau Road and Rathcoole areas of Belfast. One man in his twenties was taken to hospital with leg injuries after being beaten with batons and iron bars in Hatfield Street. Another man, also in his twenties, was taken to hospital after being shot in the leg in an incident near the Irish Highway Inn, in Rathcoole, on the northern outskirts of the city at around 7.15pm.

8 January


Stephen Paul, in his twenties, was left in a critical condition after a shooting incident on the loyalist Kilcooley estate, in Bangor, Co Down. Despite his injuries he managed to stagger several hundred yards to a main road. He was picked up by an ambulance, which took him to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital where he had emergency surgery. Mr Paul is the nephew of William "Wassie" Paul, a loyalist drug dealer, who was shot dead a few streets away last July. In a separate incident, two men were beaten with pickaxe handles by three masked men who broke into a house in Kilfennan, Londonderry. The victims, aged 35 and 39, suffered cuts and bruising to their heads and bodies.

9 January


Six masked IRA men burst into the house of Noel Diver, who lives with his partner and child on a republican estate in Strabane, Co Tyrone. They pulled the 24-year-old from the sofa and beat him with baseball bats and an iron bar. It was several minutes before they realised that they had the wrong house and the wrong man. They left without a word, went next door, seized 22-year-old Michael Brennan, and offered a running commentary as they smashed his limbs. "Wait till you hear this one break," one shouted, as he swung a baseball bat down at Mr Brennan's arm. "You're a big man now," said another as they left their victim groaning on his kitchen floor. Both men were left with broken arms and legs, and injuries to their ankles and heads. Two masked men, armed with a baseball bat and a wooden baton, attacked a 17-year-old youth at The Quay, Killough. The victim received bruising to his head, back, face and hand in the attack.

12 January


An 18-year-old man was beaten with a baseball bat in an attack in Londonderry. He suffered severe bruising.

14 January


A 23-year-old man was shot in the thigh by two men at Malvern Way in Belfast's Shankill area. He was taken to hospital for treatment.

15 January


A 24-year-old man was detained in hospital after being attacked and beaten with sticks in the Markets area of Belfast. He suffered broken ankles and bruising. Later, another 24-year-old man was shot in the right calf by three masked men at Mount Vernon Park in north Belfast.

17 January


A 32-year-old man required hospital treatment after being beaten by three men armed with a hammer and a wooden bat in Low Road, Lisburn Co Antrim. He suffered a broken wrist and bruising to his head.

20 January


At around 9.15pm a number of masked men entered a house at Lurgantarry, Lurgan, and attacked the male occupant with sticks. The victim, who was in his thirties, was then shot in the right arm, right knee and left ankle. He was detained in hospital for treatment.

18 January


A 33-year-old man was beaten with a hammer and baseball bat in an attack in the Lisburn district of Antrim. He suffered a broken wrist.

23 January


A 17-year-old youth was shot in the right leg by loyalist paramilitaries in an alleyway off Hopewell Avenue, in the Shankill area of Belfast. In a separate incident two men beat workers at Roscoff Restaurant, in central Belfast, with hammers. This incident has not been confirmed as paramilitary.

25 January


In Rasharkin, Co Antrim an 18-year-old youth suffered head and face injuries when three masked men burst into his house and beat him with clubs, in what is presumed to have been a loyalist attack. A second man in the house escaped injury by jumping out of a first- floor window. Earlier, in what appeared to be another paramilitary-style shooting, at Maghera, Co Londonderry, a man was shot in the leg. Also, Sean Adams, 18, Gerry Adams' nephew, and a friend, suffered a punishment beating in the St James area of the Falls Road.

26 January


Eamon Collins, aged 44, died after what is thought to be an attack by Republicans. He had been repeatedly stabbed and attacked with a blunt object. His body was found in a ditch in Newry. Collins, a former IRA member who had been jailed, turned against the IRA and wrote a book about his exploits. In another incident, which took place shortly after 10pm, a 20-year-old man was shot in both hands and his right ankle on Rossnareen Avenue, in the republican area of west Belfast.

30 January


Seven people were taken to hospital after being assaulted by a masked gang at Newtownabbey, Co Antrim. The woman, teenage girl and five men in their late teens and early twenties were attacked by masked men when their Ford Fiesta pulled up outside the woman's house in the Ballyduff district after a night out. After assaulting the seven people they set fire to the Fiesta and to their own car. The attackers - at least one of whom carried a gun - had earlier forced their way into the house, smashing windows and terrifying a babysitter and two children, aged seven and eight. The assault took place hours after a man in his early thirties was shot in the Catholic area of Cookstown, Co Tyrone, in what was treated as a punishment attack, said to have been carried out by the IRA.

1 February


At 8.45pm a 28-year-old man was abducted by two masked men in Fountain Road, Cookstown, in Co Tyrone. The man was driven around for two hours in the back of a Citroen car, until at 10.45pm in Moygashel, a republican area of Co Tyrone, he was told to lie on the ground and was shot in the right leg.

2 February


At 8.30pm a number of men broke into a house in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh. They confronted a man in his forties in the hallway of his home, in front of his daughter. They struck him on the head with a sledge-hammer and during the struggle shot him in the stomach. He was taken to hospital, where he was described as "seriously ill, but stable." Detectives believe that paramilitaries set out to shoot and mutilate the man and have now left him with a bullet wound to his abdomen.

3 February


A 40-year-old man was shot in the foot in a Protestant area of east Belfast.