Northern Ireland gets the knives in

A 3-week amnesty began today in Northern Ireland, aimed particularly at 11-18 year old boys, to reduce the number of blades out on the streets. This move comes in the light of 1200 crimes committed last year with knives, a rise from 984 the previous year. Similar amnesties are being rolled out across the UK, although the one here is of a shorter duration than the others. The amnesties in England, Scotland and Wales will last for 5 weeks.I dont know how accurately knives can be tested forensically, but it was emphasised on Good Morning Ulster that any knives handed in would not be tested for links to crime. David Hanson also dealt with some tricky questions on how this would work, and which type of knife was seen appropriate for which purpose.

It was an issue raised by Lady Sylvia in Westminster in February, so perhaps this is one area that could attract widespread support.

Knife bins are being established at special sites, and a publicity scheme is being launched. I have to admit to a degree of scepticism as to how it might work, but I hope that it gets results.

In general, reaction to the amnesty appears to be positive, and why shouldn’t it be? There should be no reason for anyone from any party to shirk responsibility on this issue. Anything that can be done to reduce the use of knives as a part of the cultural kit for teenagers should be seen as positive.

Sinn Fein`s Gerry Kelly said an amnesty alone was not enough to tackle Northern Ireland`s knife culture.
The North Belfast MLA said: “While people will obviously welcome any initiative which will remove knives from our streets, I think that wider issues need to be addressed if we are to effectively tackle the growing problem of knives being used.

“Political leaders have a major role to play in tackling issues like sectarianism which have resulted in an increasing number of attacks with knives in recent years. Indeed, three Catholics have been killed in sectarian attacks involving knives in recent years.”

  • Alan Law

    To be honest, I would have thought an amnesty on baseball bats would have been much more meaningful…….

  • Pete Baker

    “In general, reaction to the amnesty appears to be positive, and why shouldn’t it be?”

    Why wouldn’t it be indeed, missfitz?

    Which politician here would stand up and say that an supposed attempt to reduce the number of violent attacks, using knives, is ill-conceived? Especially when that campaign is being promoted by the wider media – with some notably exceptions – the issue of the siting of the bins has been raised on TalkBack.

    As for Kelly.. *sheesh* the attempt to turn it into a sectarian argument is a bit rich.. even for him.

    In general though, I’m minded of the response to the anti-‘right to bear arms’ lobby in the US –

    Knives don’t kill people, people kill people [and, yes, I’m looking at you Gerry Kelly]

  • joeCanuck

    sorry Alan

    regarding your snide comment, baseball bats have a legitimate purpose as well as being misused.
    the knives they are hoping to recover have no such purpose.

  • Alan Law

    JoeCanuck – regarding your snide comment, baseball bats have a legitimate purpose as well as being misused.
    the knives they are hoping to recover have no such purpose.

    keep telling yourself this and I am sure it’ll come true. It would be interesting to know how many baseball teams there are in Northern Ireland and consider the correlation with the number of bats sold.

  • Alan beat me to the punch.

    I live in America, where most kids have baseball bats because they play baseball.

    In Ireland, the North in particular, baseball is very rarely played. Its primary use is to bash someone’s head in.

    Has any politician proposed to make these things illegal there? Unless you can prove that you play the game?

    I’m not joking. What is here a sports object is there an iconic and very real means of dealing death or severe injury. I’m surprised that there’s never a word about restricting them.

  • joeCanuck

    Sorry guys

    Having been away from N.I. for 25 years, I didn’t realize that baseball hadn’t caught on over there.
    please accept my apology.


  • GiveItARestSylvia

    Lady Sylvia should now ‘raise’ the issue of gunmen in her ‘political grouping’ ahead of knife culture.

    I doubt she’ll devote any parliamentary time to the guns, grenades, explosives etc. held by her colleagues.

    I’m sure she’s at least a little glad Jack has no idea what she is involved with.

  • Donnacha

    The only problem with banning baseball bats is that the users of those bats will simply move on to other weapons. Will there then be a call for axe handles to be banned? Hurleys? The knife amnesty is a good idea, I think, despite Gerry’s wishy-washy attempts to turn a political coin. He should quit whining, at least the amnesty is a start.

  • Rory

    Surely no self-respecting loyalist thug would ever beat someone to death with a ‘taig’ hurley? Golf clubs would also be a wee bit non-chavvy to be seen disporting and I soppose a lacrosse thingymajig just wouldn’t do the trick. What’s wrong with hurley sticks? Too girly I suppose.

    One of the reasons that the Downpatrick riot of 1949, that ensued from the attempt of the supporters of the newly elected Brian Faulkner to march in triumph into the nationalist area of the town, lasted so long was that the hurleys of the local sporting team proved to be longer than the standard RUC baton.

    A knife amnesty is simply silly window dressing and everyone knows that. Nasty little killers will alays have nasty little means of murder. Should we prefer death by dessert spoon?

  • Donnacha

    “Should we prefer death by dessert spoon?”
    Yes, it’s blunter….And as for the camamn being girly, you’ve clearly never played under-14s hurling in Wexford.

  • Rory

    I meant to type “hockey sticks”, Donnacha, apologies. I’m certainly not going to play under-14’s hurling in Wexford (or anywhere else) at my age. Might get arrested as a paedophile. Think I’ll stick to croquet like John Prescott.

  • Gene

    On the subject of baseball teams in Northern Ireland there actually are a few. In Belfast, there’s the NorthStars and the Wolves, both adult teams. Up in the Coleraine area there are two youth teams: the Portstewart Eagles and the Portrush Mustangs, both of which welcome players from any religious or ethnic background. This is the right way to use baseball bats!