Working class communities across the city are struggling on a daily basis to make ends meet and increasingly people within these same communities are finding themselves experiencing levels of hardship and poverty that largely go unseen.
All of this creates massive strain and stress on the people living within these communities and some of them, particularly young people find themselves experiencing despair and hopelessness which can lead to escapism and drug and alcohol abuse.
For some young people this can lead them into anti-social behaviour and criminality, which more often than not is perpetrated against members of their own community. This in turn feeds the growing sense of anger, abandonment and despair experienced by these communities.
This anger is then given expression through the violent actions of groups and organisations who claim to be acting for and on behalf of ‘the community’ in pursuit of justice.
In many instances, these actions have led to people from within our communities been banished, maimed and in some cases even killed.
Through the perspectives of activists, community workers, academics and victims ‘Brutal Justice: The Communities Views’ will examine and explore different approaches to addressing these urgent questions.
The event seeks to provide a space where these questions can be openly and honestly discussed. It will take the form of a facilitated open forum discussion, with a number of invited speakers offering their experience and analysis on the issues. The discussion will be based on three simple “rules of engagement”:
- any view can be expressed here
- every speaker is treated with respect here
- every view can be challenged here
Invited speakers include:
Shaun Roddy was the first volunteer with ‘Off the Streets Initiative’ in the Greater Shantallow area 22 years ago. As a Child & Adolescent Mental Health Social Worker he has many years of experience working with young adults who found themselves involved with the criminal justice system because of their substance misuse. Many of these young adults, and their families, were the victims of threats, intimidation and violence from paramilitaries. He has witnessed the long-term impact of the violence and threats on children’s mental health including anxiety depression, self-harm and suicide attempts. He currently lecturers in Social Work at Ulster University at Magee, Derry.
William Allen is a former editor of the Londonderry Sentinel, he is currently Group Editor of a number of Johnston Press newspapers in the North West. William’s nephew Andy Allen, was shot dead by a Republican organisation, Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD), which claimed to be combatting the drugs problem in Derry. Andy Allen was one of scores of people threatened and ordered out of Derry by DAAD and other Republican organisations. He went to live with his partner and her two children in Lisfannon in Co. Donegal and was shot dead outside the house they shared on February 9th 20I2. William Allen spoke out strongly against the killing at the time and against “vigilante” killings more generally.
John Lindsay is the author of ‘No Dope Here? Anti-Drug Vigilantism in Northern Ireland’. He has been an active campaigner against paramilitary intimidation and violence for a number of years. In the 2016 and 2017 Assembly elections he stood as a candidate for CISTA (Cannabis is safer than alcohol).
Deaglán Ó Donghaile
Dr Deaglán Ó Donghaile has written widely on the impact of punishment beatings not just on the individuals directly involved but on the wider culture. He himself was involved in trying to physically fend off a punishment attack at his family home in Derry that ended in the brutal assault on his father. Dr Deaglan O Donghaile is a lecturer in the Department of English at Liverpool John Moores University.
Additional speakers to be added in the coming days.
N.B.The event organisers acknowledge that the current list of invited speakers will be speaking against the use of violence. Importantly, the organisers will welcome input from those who believe that “informal” policing involving physical “punishment” is necessary and acceptable.
‘Brutal Justice: The Community’s Views’ will be closed to the press.