Two men have been shot in the ankles as dissident republicans in Northern Ireland maintain a campaign of violence designed to demonstrate that they remain a menace to the peace process and the security forces.
Their latest acts of violence have this week included "punishment" attacks in which two men were shot in west Belfast, together with an arson attack at the home of a Sinn Fein MP in South Armagh. The incidents are seen as an attempt by a series of small dissident groups to register their continuing existence, despite recent arrests and clampdowns by police.
The official view is that such groups pose a potent threat, but do not represent any unravelling of the overall peace process, which is seen as robust. They are not seen as capable of sustained high-level campaigns of violence.
On Thursday night in west Belfast a gang shot a 34-year-old man in the ankles and wrists – a tactic designed to cause maximum pain – at around 11pm. A man in his twenties received similar treatment on Tuesday in the stairwell of a block of flats. That was claimed by "ONH", a republican renegade group which emerged last year. Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey condemned the incidents, saying: "This type of attack is outdated and has no place in our society."
Alex Attwood of the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party said of the dissidents: "They seek to control the whole community by posing as protectors but the community will not fall for this again."Reuse content