Just over a week ago, ONH shot a man in Twinbrook who lost a leg. Less than a week after that attack, the group has granted temporary safety to others to whom they have issued threats. However, the safety is contingent on whether those under threat announce an end to their perceived current criminal activities.
ONH has made other headlines recently. The Belfast Newsletter reported that on Easter, a masked man gave an address to 200 people in the Creggan Cemetary in Derry threatening to continue to attack police forces and British infrastructure. Six men have since been arrested and questioned over these threats. A similar threat was made last year and MP Gregory Campbell from Derry’s Waterside explained that since that time numerous attempts were made to carry it through.
ONH is not the only violent dissident Republican group making threats. Other groups like RAAD (Republican Action Against Drugs) in Derry have carried out brutal punishment attacks. Andrew Allen, killed in February, was the first confirmed victim by a lethal attack by RAAD. Allen’s uncle expressed shock and pain over the killing in a piece published in the Londonderry Sentinel, saying: “He leaves behind two young children aged four and six by the way. What effect will all this have on them when they are old enough to understand it all?”
Brutal punishment attacks like these have caused public concern. A group of mothers in Derry stage a protest against punishment attacks. The campaign, MOVE ON (Mothers Against Violence Everywhere) formed in mid-March to protest vigilante groups attacking young people. The group staged its first public protest the weekend before Mother’s Day on the peace bridge in Derry. Other concerns have also been voiced. Politicians like SDLP assembly member Pat Ramsey have spoken out against all dissident groups. Ramsey has recently called upon RAAD to disband and “put away their guns.”
Mediation services are offered through resolution groups like Conflict Resolution Services (CRS) in West Belfast. Speaking after the recent West Belfast attack, manager Jim Auld has affirmed his organization’s work by saying that “Anyone who is worried for their safety can contact CRS and we will endeavor to do all we can in our power to mediate on their behalf.” CRS helps individuals who have been threated by paramilitary groups like the ONH and RAAD.
Hopefully, mediation services like these will prove to be effective in solving conflicts nonviolently, so that more tragedies like the ones in Belfast and Derry over the past few months cease.