Gerry Adams is facing calls to apologise to the sister of a man who died after an IRA punishment attack.
Andrew Kearney, from west Belfast, bled to death after he was shot three times in the leg in 1998. He stepped in to protect a man involved in a bar brawl and took on republicans.
His sister, Eleanor King, told RTÉ she had met Mr Adams, leader of Sinn Féin.
“He should have come forward and told the IRA what to do, as in to come forward and admit it publicly,” said Ms King. “And, yes, give a public apology.
“And in my opinion, if he had done that, even if he didn’t call for anybody to be arrested or anything, but just even the public apology and the public acceptance, it would have caused the family a lot less heartache over the years.”
An RTÉ documentary about punishment shootings is due to be broadcast today. Also featured is Thomas Marley, whose son Gerard took his own life in 1997 after suffering two punishment attacks.
Gerard was from the Divis area of west Belfast and was involved in joyriding.
“[The IRA] kept on doing it, killing people with their shotguns blowing legs off, using bars,” said Mr Marley. “They thought it was fun, it was the right thing.”
In 1998, Andrew Peden was packing up his car for a trip to the seaside with his young family when he was abducted by the UVF.
They beat him for 12 hours before shooting him in both legs with a shotgun. He spent several months in hospital. Both of his legs were amputated above the knee.
The attack happened just three weeks after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and its promise of a bright future for the people of the North.
During the Troubles, most of the attacks took place in north and west Belfast. What began in republican areas was copied by loyalists who went on to carry out more punishment beatings and shootings than republicans.
Former UVF prisoner Tom Winstone, director of a restorative justice programme on Belfast’s Shankill Rd, says in the documentary: “It might just surprise you how much mistrust there was in loyalist communities towards the police.
“When you are talking about punishment violence, I think everyone understands and knows that it’s wrong but unfortunately a lot of people didn’t bat an eyelid about that.”
Above The Law, a Below The Radar TV production in association with the RTÉ Investigation Unit, will be broadcast on RTÉ One at 9.35pm tonight.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved