Punishment beatings a fading horror of the past?

I’ve no idea how old this documentary on punishment beatings actually is. Considering the numbers of incidents has dropped like a stone since the IRA’s decommissioning of arms last September, it’s currency has to be in question. Nevertheless it documents in graphic detail incidents that have been a routine part of some people’s lives for most of the Peace Process. The second part of the segment is here.

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  • Miss Fitz

    I watched both films.

    Probably more than most, I try to be neutral and unengaged with stories, but attempt to provide something objective and helpful.

    I think this post should be mandatory for anyone who thinks they can offer an opinion or attitude about Northern Ireland.

    Local justice without the rule of law is a non starter, and if any of our politicians had sufficient courage, they would make that clear

    Its black and white, right and wrong.

    You can have the peelers or we can have local justice

    Give me the peelers any day

  • Justin

    Not to mention the fact that statistically speaking punishment beating do NOT deter crime.

    There was an interesting thesis written at Oxford by Heather Hamill relating to this. The title is Hoods and Provo’s. It’s a must read on this topic.

  • Mick Fealty


    I’ve just sent a request to the Sociology department to see if I can contact here and perhaps get a reference copy. The full title is: “Hoods and Provos: Crime and Punishment in West Belfast”.

  • Manda

    I would like to hear the voice of someone who has actually experienced this awful business, whether endured it or dished it out!!

  • Justin


    I realized after you posted that I left off the subtitle. Oops! There is another book that concentrates on this issue as well. I can’t think of the name off the top of my head, but I will look in my library tonight and post tomorrow.

    I received a microfilmed copy of Hamills Thesis, and it was very informing. She did some good work in preparing the material.

  • Canaan Banana

    I previously posted and opinion that, whilst I believe the cops are useless…I mean handing out fire blankets in Ahoghill to people under threat of firebombing…but the CRJ forums is essentially enshrining vigilante groups into legislation.

    The explicit sanction in law is the use of force, even deadly, by representatives of the community with checks and balances…ie the judicial system in order to protect society at large….is someone going to tell me that this is not what CRJ is aiming for and in that case who steps up to be the commuity representatives. None other than the paramilitaries, but where is the due process and checks and balances on abuse of power…there isn’t any!

  • Judge Dread

    If soneone breaks into an elderly person’s house and beats him/her senseless and then steals the possessions they have, the perpertrator deserves all they get whether it be from the courts or the end of a baseball bat.

    Tony Martin was not too far of how to treat such miscreants in my book. I am against the death penalty but in some instances I think I prefer revenge than justice. If it is not a deterent then no problem, at least the next time someone who breaks into a house or steals a car will not be so quick to run away if they have a limp.

  • Manda

    Correct, but the ‘people’ on the receiving end of these punishment beatings are usually involved with a paramilitary organisation and therefore have the oppurtunity to rise in the ranks of forementioned groupings. This then results in them ‘dishing out’ the beatings/shootings to younger members, with this in mind, what do you think they are thinking at the time?

  • Judge Dread

    Manda are you inferring that the punishment beating is a initiation type of gig or the youths joining the paramilitaries today are housebreakers, car thieves etc ?

  • Harry

    The old trick still operates when considering these things – concentrate upon the human angle when criticising nationalism but refer to legal and buraeacratic structures when talking about the british/unionists. In other words, criminalise the nationalists but imply propriety and legitimacy when talking about the british/unionists.

    An old game. And a tiresome one.

    The message is “submit to british law, british structures, british ‘legitimacy'”.

    Nationalists are 46%-47% of the population but the way some people talk you’d think they’re little more than a few hoods hanging around a suburb in need of disciplining by the adults.

    And I find Miss Fitz’s appeal to commonsense and decency to be frequently little more than a projection of her own female emotions of passivity, calling us all to submission in the name of the overbearing – or should that be the ‘rugged & manly’ – british.


    I know for a fact that some young men have joined the ranks of paramilitary organsiatons as an alternative to recieving a beating.

    How anyone can justify this type of human rights abuse, and still consider themselves civilised is beyond me.
    When this thread started I made a little bet with myself that we would get a post justifying these acts of barbarism within ten posts.

  • Manda

    I wouldn’t have the faintest notion of whether it is an initiation but let’s be realistic here, the majority of members of these organisations are from working class areas, hence the link to crime.

    I’m aware that the ‘speakers’ for these groups are anti-crime but I’m sure they started somwhere along the same lines!

    The words black, kettle & pot spring to mind!!

  • Judge Dread

    TAFKABO – Happy to oblige.

  • Harry

    The most important thing is not punishment beatings, brutal though those are. The most important thing is the withdrawal of british legal sovereignty from the lives of those who reject it. Concentrating constantly on the human side of punishment beatings as a way to bludgeon nationalists into accepting british ‘legitimacy’ is a form of political punishment beating – a.k.a. propaganda – in itself.

    Punishment beatings are just one aspect of this whole issue. Another is unionists and british with hundreds of thousands of guns, silent but present and intimidating in themselves. What about that form of thuggery?

  • Manda

    Thuggery it may be Harry but these beatings still continue and no matter how much you try to place the blame on the British and unionists, they will go on until all paramilitary organisations are wiped out. I do not believe that this is a matter for the government, it is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland to satnd up to these ‘thugs’ and take action. Easier said than done I know but how else do you propose this happens?



    Brilliant post.

    Arguing that the real victims are those who carry out these acts of barabarism.
    When can we expect a post explaining how that cold stuff that falls from the sky in flakes is black?

  • Mick Fealty

    In light of JD’s first comments above, Hobbes (corrective retribution) versus Mills (societal expediency) anyone?

  • Manda

    Punishment beatings and shootings have been a brutal facet of life throughout the Troubles. The are regularly carried out by paramilitaries on both sides of the sectarian divide.

    To put the blame on unionists is downright silly!

    As we know, in republican areas, the police have little credibility and members of the community turn to paramilitaries to “get something done” about petty criminals.
    There is an awful lot of feeling that they’re getting some of what they deserve because of what they’ve done. Certainly in these areas, it’s seen as swift justice – as certain justice.”

    Note to TAFKABO: I am not justifying these beatings!!

  • tony

    As far as i’m aware punishment shootings are only happening in unionist areas. Most of the news reports over the last number of months have reported all shootings in unionist areas like
    east Belfast & Newtownabbey .

  • Mick Fealty


    The numbers for some time have indicated that Loyalists were beating children and young adults at twice the rate of Republicans. However the last several IMC reports indicate the number of Republican beatings are now indeed derisory.

    That’s why I deliberately raised the question in the post above over its current relevance.

  • Manda

    Has the crime rate gone up in republican areas I wonder?

    Just a thought!

  • Fraggle

    Justin, you say, “Not to mention the fact that statistically speaking punishment beating do NOT deter crime.”

    How would you account for the near complete absence of heroin abuse/addiction in republican areas of the north over the past few decades. Over the same time period, heroin has been rife in urban areas of the republic, in britain and loyalist areas of the north. This is one area where republican punishments HAVE deterred this specific crime.

    Then again, I haven’t read the thesis in question and I could be totally wrong.

  • Garibaldy

    I thought heroin was only rife in Ballymena, for entirely understandable reasons.

  • Intelligence Insider

    Perhaps the guy in the video wasn’t paying enough protection money to the PRM? Read the link

  • fair_deal


    For information. The latest figures available are for Jan-Jun 2006. There were 22 attacks (19 loyalist, 3 dissident republican) a drop of 67% on last year. The loyalist figure is also a 35% drop from the same period last year when they carried out 34 such attacks.

  • nmc

    Heroin is now widely available in Antrim. I’m originally from Ballymena, and I was talking to an old friend who said that users in Ballymena were travelling to Antrim to score.

    I have been assured by my friends in the west that things are worse now. That in years gone by, by and large people behaved themselves because they didn’t want to be nailed to a fence. Which is obviously wrong.

    It all comes back to justice, and in turn policing. If Republicans are encouraged by sinn fein to use the police, then the need for that kind of rough justice is not (as) necessary.

  • Donnacha

    Brilliant! So punishment beatings are down. Just ordinary decent lampings being handed out on a rgular basis on the weekends then….

  • Gerry Mander

    The form of cruel and degrading treatment/torture, known as punishment beatings are another thing to consider when voting the SF ticket. How many elected representatives ordered these and worse forms of torture? How many of these lecture us today on human rights?

  • Daisy

    “And I find Miss Fitz’s appeal to commonsense and decency to be frequently little more than a projection of her own female emotions of passivity”

    Did you type that with a straight face, Harry? Your posts sound just like the patriarchal ultra-nationalism which I had hoped would’ve disappeared by now.

  • Harry

    No Daisy, it’s a psychological analysis based on reading a variety of miss fitz’s ‘loving submission’ posts over the months.

  • Mick Fealty

    And it’s not exactly hitting the ball Harry. It’s always more effective if you can take what any of us says to bits, and put it up to us, or indeed any external journo or expert. Miss F doesn’t pull her punches and I expect does not expect readers to either.

    All I ask is that you punch hard and clean!

  • Young Fogey

    I agree there are serious law and order problems in some parts of Northern Ireland. I agree they need robust action. I disagree that they are any worse than they were before the Ra stopped kneecapping people. It’s always been bad, especially at this time of the year.

    There’s no simple answers – but any answer has to be better than ‘crucifying’ people. And like the successful campaign to end judicially sanctioned violence in the penal systems of most European countries in the last century, the argument isn’t what is done to the criminals, but what is done to those inflicting the punishment.

  • Harry

    It is the delay in implementing sovereign legal arrangements that are acceptable to half population that is as much a cause of law and order problems as it is the thuggish actions of self-appointed vigilantes. The blame for the former lies with the british and the unionists, who insist on shoving their form of paramilitarised government down the throats of half the population. The poison lies there.