A Derry priest has hit out at the actions of the city’s violent vigilantes as “self-serving” and “wrong”.
Waterside Parish Priest Fr Michael Canny made the comment following the latest attack by armed and masked men on one of his parishioners - a 15 year-old schoolboy.
The boy, who lives in the Hazelbank area, was severely beaten by a masked gang in the Top of Hill area at around 10.45pm on Saturday. The four masked men, who were armed with a firearm and hammers, threatened to shoot the boy’s father if he tried to intervene and stop the attack at the rear of a house in Mimosa Court.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday, Fr Canny called on all right thinking people to condemn the use of violence against any people. “The actions of individuals or organised groups who engage in executing, mutilating or exiling our teenagers and young people are self-serving and make no contribution to solving the challenging problems that many people are experiencing in some of the most economically and socially deprived areas in our city.”
And the priest urged those who condone such actions think again. “To those who by silence give support to those engaged in so called punishment attacks for anti-social behaviour I ask to reflect on the irony of using anti-social behaviour to deal with anti-social behaviour. There can be no room for ambivalence; there is no right or good anti-social behaviour.
“Violence from whatever source, with whatever warped justification, against another human being is always wrong,” he added.
Speaking after the attack, the victim’s father said he felt powerless against the attackers.
“I heard him shouting, I looked around and there were three or four boys beating him with masks on,” he said.
“I went towards the gate and a man pointed the gun at me and said, ‘stay where you are or you’ll get it’. I knew the best thing to do was to stand back. If they knew I was there they were going to get off him faster and get away and then at least then I could help him. He was shouting ‘help me, help me’. I know if it was me, it would scare me so what’s it going to do to a child?”