Sunday 21 October 2018

Republican terror gang orders girl (14) out of home and country

Threats were issued by the dissident republican group, known as ONH, to the child and her two brothers last week (Stock photo)
Threats were issued by the dissident republican group, known as ONH, to the child and her two brothers last week (Stock photo)

Ali Gordon

A frightened 14-year-old Northern Ireland girl has been kicked out of her home and ordered out of the country by terror gang Oglaigh na hEireann.

Threats were issued by the dissident republican group, known as ONH, to the child and her two brothers last week.

Speaking to Sunday Life from their home in the Springfield Road area of west Belfast, the young girl’s grandparents opened up about the heartache the threats have caused the family.

They have also asked “drug-dealing gangsters” ONH to tell them what the young girl did to deserve to be put out of her home in Turf Lodge.

“You’re only a baby at 14, no matter what you’ve done,” the child’s grandfather, Brian O’Riordan, told Sunday Life.

“If you threaten a 14-year-old girl, they can’t go to school because of the threat on them. How are they supposed to get an education and get jobs if they can’t go to school?

“Where do you go to? Who do you turn to? The kids can’t be in certain places because there’s a threat so where are they supposed to go? It’s sickening.”

The family left Belfast hours after threats were delivered by ONH on February 7.

The PSNI later delivered a letter confirming this, telling the family that they “may wish to review your personal security”.

Brian said: “ONH put the threat out. They told them (his granddaughter’s family) to get out. They were told they had to be out by eight o’clock that night. There’s three threats on the three kids and we want them to come and tell us why.

“Putting a threat on a 14-year-old girl is shameful. She still comes to the house and sits down with me like a big baby. A wee fella that age is still a baby, let alone a girl.”

Grandmother Mairead added: “She’s a livewire, she always has been, but she doesn’t deserve to be put out.”

The exiled child’s older brother was shot in both legs in a paramilitary-style attack in the Aitnamona Crescent area of Turf Lodge days before Christmas.

The 16-year-old boy — whose family openly admit has been involved in anti-social behaviour — was found by a pensioner who heard him moaning in pain. He and his 18-year-old brother, like their younger 14-year-old sister, are also under threat from ONH.

“You can’t put teenagers out of their homes and put them in an isolated place, with none of their friends, and expect them to be okay about it,” said gran Mairead.

“It’s not just us — this happens all the time. Every time a family moves they have to change schools and try to build their life again with this threat hanging over them.

“It’s heartbreaking what that does to a family. They have those kids terrorised and we want to know why.”

The distraught grandparents say that since the threats were officially issued, the O’Riordans have asked other family members to stay away from their house.

“Our wee grandkids haven’t done anything wrong, but they’re being punished because the threat is on the house and we want to protect them,” said Brian.

ONH is smaller than its rival, the New IRA, with its powerbase in west and north Belfast, Derry and south Armagh. Although responsible for a number of high profile attacks on the security services, including the maiming of policeman Peadar Heffron, it has lost considerable ground to the New IRA, which has poached some of its most experienced members.

“They walk around like they own the place but they’re putting people out of their homes when they’re the ones with tags on and their own children have robbed wee grannies,” said Mairead.

“ONH, the New IRA, whatever they want to call themselves, the groups are all the same.

“They’re all one group who spend their time terrorising their communities and then change their name every time something happens.”

The kneecapping of the O’Riordan’s 16-year-old grandson in Turf Lodge last December was described by cops as “child abuse”. His family say dissident republicans have threatened him since he was aged 14.

Brian said: “The day they were due to shoot my grandson, I was supposed to meet them at 1 o’clock. I got a phone call at 12.30pm saying not to bother because they were going to shoot him anyway. The child gave himself up to them that night to be shot.”

Mairead added: “Everything that happens in Turf Lodge, they get the blame for. They  were blamed for robbing something last week and then came back two days later and said, ‘Oh sorry, it wasn’t him’.

“By that stage, the damage had been done because it had been spread around Turf Lodge and people had seen him being accused at the door.

“My grandson is no angel but he’s had his punishment with jail and by them in the past but they won’t give him a chance.

“A threat was sent to the house once for him when he was in jail. How could he have done anything if he was in jail? His name was still circulating around Turf Lodge and that was enough for them to come to the door.”

The couple have also slammed dissident groups for putting children in the area under curfew, with one family member allegedly being shot for complaining about his 8pm lockdown on Facebook and calling the terror gang “clampits”.

Last month, PSNI Chief Inspector Norman Haslett warned there was “only one policing service in west Belfast” following a series of punishment attacks by ONH in the area and a mob attack that forced a family to flee their home in Poleglass.

Brian said: “ONH are drug-dealing gangsters — they’re not fighting anyone. They’re just making a war against their own people. They have children tortured in Turf Lodge.”

Brian and Mairead hope that by speaking out they can help those who live in fear of paramilitaries, like ONH.

“We want help in this community before people become victims,” said Mairead.

“It seems you have to be a victim to get any sort of help at all, but by then it’s often too late. There are so many families out there like us, who feel as though they have nowhere else to turn. It all boils down to fear.”

Desperate for help, the O’Riordans approached justice campaigner Raymond McCord who visited the west Belfast offices of Conflict Resolution Services (Ireland), which mediates in ONH disputes, to have the threats against their grandkids lifted.

He said: “I spoke to one individual in west Belfast, but have yet to hear back from him. This isn’t good enough, it’s bad enough that adults are threatened by paramilitaries, now they are targeting 14-year-old schoolgirls.”

Raymond also criticised the government for failing to provide services to meet with paramilitaries to demand terror threats against families are lifted.

He added: “I raised this case with the VSS (Victims and Survivors Service) and was told by them to contact the PSNI because it is a policing matter and isn’t within its remit.

“In my view this shows the chronic lack of understanding there is about real victims’ issues. If anyone has been threatened by paramilitaries, and needs help, they should contact me.”

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