12 May 2000<
Martin McGuinness repeats Sinn Fein opposition to punishment beatings
Martin McGuinness MP has reiterated Sinn Fein's opposition to punishment beatings. He said:
``There has been a renewed focus over recent days on the issue of anti-social behaviour and punishment beatings. I am particularly concerned about recent incidents and I would therefore like to make my position and that of Sinn Fein absolutely clear.
``Sinn Fein is totally opposed to punishment beatings. However, unlike other political parties who say much on this issue but do little, Sinn Fein has pro-actively sought to develop, with community groups and statutory agencies, measures, programmes and projects which can reduce anti-social behaviour and help end punishment attacks.
``Nationalist communities want and deserve proper policing. They are law-abiding communities who have withstood the rigours of this conflict with great dignity. Punishment attacks arise because of the absence of a proper and acceptable policing service within nationalist areas. However, neither the policing problem nor the issue of criminal and anti-social behaviour will be resolved by battering young people, some of whom are categorised as `hoods'.
``Sinn Fein is opposed to these attacks and we do not believe that they contribute to resolving the serious problem of criminality in nationalist areas.
``Therefore, in the interim, while we seek to resolve the issue of creating a proper policing service, we still need a democratic, open, accountable and lawful alternative that can effectively tackle the problem of anti-social and criminal behaviour.
``One response to this has been the formation of a number of community neighbourhood watch groups. Another has been the development of community restorative justice projects. To be effective, it is imperative that the community is involved in all aspects of such a development and agrees with the principles underlying its existence.
``The processes to be employed must be transparent and consistent. Statutory bodies, some of whom have played a commendable role in the formation of and sustaining of these groups, should increase their support for these projects.''
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