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20 November 2018

Troubles in Northern Ireland.

by Jason Stone


When Northern Ireland was gripped by the well--publicised violence of bombs and bullets, there was a vacuum created by the difficulties associated with conventional policing in areas completely hostile to state authority. This hole was filled by paramilitary groups whose disrespect for the rule of law frequently led to the use of violent retribution against petty criminals and dissenters alike.

1998's Good Friday Agreement has largely brought an end to the dramatic acts of violence which were a mainstay of the 1970s and 1980s both in Northern Ireland itself and in Great Britain, but some vestiges of the troubles rumble on, and the practice of knee-capping has never been completely eliminated.

This series of four films made by the Department of Justice are designed to draw attention to the horror of knee-capping by looking at it from four different perspectives.

Although most of the leading figures who supported the campaign to the Leave the EU are incredibly blithe about it, Northern Ireland's healing process is already being damaged by Brexit, and there is a real danger that the Good Friday Agreement will completely unravel.

Even if this doesn't immediately lead to IEDs once again exploding in the six counties of Northern Ireland, the difficulty with vigilante violence will inevitably escalate, and - as well as tackling the problem that exists now - it seems probable that the aim of this campaign is to get ahead of any escalation as the effect of Brexit pushes Northern Ireland's fragile ceasefire to the limit.

The quartet of PSAs have been filmed from the perspective of four different people caught up in a single act of violence. They are more than the sum of their parts, as - in combination - they offer a chilling perspective of this bloody practice.

It's very shocking to discover that the victim's mother is complicit in this extrajudicial act, and sadly this is not unrealistic. For some living in these communities, delivering a son for a 'punishment' like this has been normalised. And it's done because a fear that the retribution will be much more severe in the absence of compliance.

Even before the complication of Brexit, this kind of violence was increasing in Northern Ireland - possibly exacerbated by the collapse in January 2017 of the power-sharing arrangement between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

While pro-Leave politicians based in London dismiss concerns about Brexit causing Northern Ireland's peace to disintegrate as "scare stories", communities in a quarter of the United Kingdom which voted unequivocally to stay in the EU - in part, because they understood the likelihood of this consequence - are preparing themselves for the worst.

And unless the warning provided by this anti-violence campaign is heeded then - amidst the chaos - there are likely to be more mothers delivering their sons for punishment beatings and kneecappings.

For security reasons, we are unable to publish credits for these films but please contact Jason Stone on 07860 834622 if you are curious to know more.

David Reviews is hand-crafted by Lovely Lenzie Ltd, 7 Seven Sisters, Lenzie, Glasgow, G66 3AW. Editor: Jason Stone. Phone: 0141 776 7766. E-mail: jason@davidreviews.com.