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Why do our tweet-happy politicians have so little to say about the barbaric torture of children in 'punishment' attacks?

By Lindy McDowell ·

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Rough justice: many young men have been beaten to a pulp in a back alley

The boy was 16 years old and he'd agreed to come down to meet me in the Belfast Telegraph building. For obvious reasons he didn't want a reporter to be seen coming up anywhere near his house.

When he arrived I took him into what, in the old Royal Avenue building back then, we grandly called the "interview room" - a windowed cubbyhole near the rear entrance desk to the paper.

Through the glass we were clearly visible to colleagues coming and going, members of the public dropping in to do business and Adrian, our redoubtable security man.

The boy, in common with so many others I met who'd been through the same ordeal, was enormously agitated.

He limped furiously around the small space, his anger at the world bouncing off the walls.

"Look what they did to me," he suddenly yelled.

And then he dropped his trousers. Around his knee were the livid, gruesomely familiar scars of bullet entry and exit and of the follow-up surgery. Outside the window I could see onlookers gape in alarm.

The boy's wounds were horrific, yes, but I'd also seen much worse.

I'd met young lads who'd had limbs amputated. I'd talked to parents and family members who, in terror and distress, had been forced to witness the utter savagery of the most barbaric attacks.

I remember a mother telling me about watching as a gang of grown men literally tried to nail her young teenage son to the floor.

There were boys I talked to who'd been shot several times. Both arms, both legs.

From years covering the attacks I'd learned that the knee injuries were generally the worst. There is an artery, the popliteal artery, which runs behind the knee. A number of 'kneecapping' victims had been abandoned, wounded and bleeding, in inaccessible places where, by the time the emergency services got to them, they had bled to death. A deliberate tactic, of course, on the part of their murderers.

And all this carried out by paramilitary organisations from whose spokesmen's lips the word 'justice' still drops with sickening regularity.

I once covered a conference highlighting the savagery of these paramilitary gangsters who, then and now, set themselves up as judge, jury and butcher.

What I remember most was the reaction of a young woman from Dublin, an employee of the tech company operating the presentational equipment.

As she watched the horrific images on screen she began to weep. "I cannot get my head around that something like this is happening only one hour up the road from where I live," she cried. "Why, why is nothing being done to stop this?"

Why, why indeed.

It is and it has been happening in our own backyard for long, bloody decades. Headlines about recent attacks underline that.

But nothing really is ever really done about it. We read about it, we shrug and then turn the page.

For some reason, in an age when we get on our high horse about just about every other outrage - real or imagined - we tolerate a medieval barbarity which, if it were happening anywhere else in the world, we'd demand an immediate end to.

Or at the very least would get a condemnatory hashtag going.

Or at the very least would get a condemnatory hashtag going.

Why do we tolerate this? Why don't we cry out against it? What is wrong with us?

For many years the resolute and principled Professor Liam Kennedy used to publish the ghastly, sickening statistics of paramilitary attacks on the young under the chilling title They Shoot Children, Don't They?

To their great shame, how many of our politicians (and indeed 'rights' activists) have ever addressed that searing question?

So quick on Twitter when it comes to anything else, where are they in the face of such ongoing manifest violation of human rights?

History, I always think, will ponder this too.

Knox not good person to hand out lectures

Amanda Knox, the woman who put the Knox into obnoxious, has been criticised following a recent RTE appearance where she sang an IRA song - Come Out, Ye Black and Tans.

This is the same woman, previously convicted of the murder of her room mate Meredith Kercher (but eventually cleared by the Italian courts), who is now making a living out of giving 'lectures' about her experience. Vile and insensitive doesn't even begin to cover it.

Many believe Knox still has questions to answer about what happened that awful night Meredith died.

SF clamp up after Gerry's bolt from the blue

We are told Gerry 'You have nothing to lose but your wheel clamps' Kelly had to resort to the bolt cutters to free up his car as he was "going to pre-arranged meetings". Ah, yes. That excuses it. The old 'going to a meeting/in a meeting' thing. Couldn't he have rang a taxi like the rest of us?

There is a dark irony that Mr Kelly, whose previous crimes have amounted to more than attacking a wheel clamp, currently finds himself under such an onslaught of criticism.

As are his Sinn Fein bosses, now doing what they always seem to do these days when the questioning gets tough. Clamping up.

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Rough justice: many young men have been beaten to a pulp in a back alley