The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams today called for communities to reject the rule of terror that leaves children and young people torture scarred, dying and in fear for their lives.
Speaking at the Building Bridges – Healing Communities through Early Childhood Education Working Forum conference, Mr Williams said he was horrified at the terror visited upon children and young people by so-called paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.
“Every year almost 50 children and young people in Northern Ireland are dragged away by hooded cowards, who then beat or shoot them,” he said. “Quite simply this has to stop now.
“Today, at a gathering when we are considering so much of the positive work in Northern Ireland, I am calling on all communities, community groups and other organisations to tell those who instil terror that the torture, maiming, mutilation and killing of children and young people has to stop.
“We cannot move forward in our society where children and young people are so terrified of so-called paramilitary groups that they consider suicide, or actually do take their own lives. These terrorists are killing children and young people
“All too often we refer to these as paramilitary beatings or paramilitary shootings. I want each person reading or listening this to imagine what it must be like for a teenager – no matter their apparent bravado – to be dragged away by men in masks, men holding guns, men holding their improvised instruments of torture. I want you to imagine what it must be like to have the barrel of a gun pressed against your knee and then the trigger pulled. I want you to imagine what it is like to have a baseball bat or hurley stick smashed into your ankle or knee until the bone shatters. If you can even imagine the terror or pain you will know this has to stop.”
Mr Williams is currently consulting on his 14 draft priorities in a campaign known as SHOUT. One of the issues he has highlighted is the impact of the Troubles on children and young people.
“I am anxious to hear views on this – and I am anxious to hear about ideas and thoughts as to how it can be stopped.”
You can learn more about the consultation at www.niccy.org/shout and respond via the website, texting the word NICCY and your comments to 80006 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.