|A stolen and burned out car near St Peter's Cathedral|
Saturday, 18 February 2017
The worst crime spot in Northern Ireland
Today the Irish News reported on crime and 'paramilitary-style' shootings in the wake of two recent gun attacks in West Belfast.
The journalist referred to young people racing stolen cars on the Falls Road and the fact there have been seven gun attacks in West Belfast since the start of the year. 'Given there were 20 similar shootings in all of 2016, this is a marked escalation.'
She finished the article by saying: 'A police crackdown on criminality and antisocial behaviour in order to restore public confidence is the most effective way to fill a vacuum otherwise inhabited by armed groups. However, in places such as Divis, with the highest crime rate in Northern Ireland, that is a daunting - and to date - insurmountable task.'
I thought of that when someone commented to me on how 'things are better on the Falls'. The truth is that there are deep-seated social problems, that residents in some streets are terrorised, and that it is unsafe to drive there when the 'Divis hoods' are about.
Yes there is no area immune from anti-social behaviour and crime but Lower Falls has the highest crime level in all of Northern Ireland.
I was also struck by the journalist's observation that so far the task of dealing with this issue has been 'insurrmountable'. In spite of all the government investment, the policing resources, the special initiatives, the Sinn Fein-sponsored Community Restorative Justice (Ireland) and the community development, this problem seems to be endemic.
That was the legacy Gerry Adams left behind him when he headed off south to Louth.